Covid in retreat: Coronavirus rates continue to fall across much of UK

Credit: PA

Coronavirus rates have continued to fall across much of the UK, the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures show, but the R number has increased slightly.

In England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, estimated infection rates have decreased, while Wales' figure has gone up slightly.


In England, an estimated one in 610 people in private households tested positive in the week ending April 16 - down from one in 480 the previous week.

An estimated 90,000 people within the community population in England had Covid-19.

Friday marks the first time this figure has dropped below 100,000 since the week to September 10 last year. Then, the estimate stood at 59,800 - the equivalent of around one in 900 people.


In Wales, around one in 840 people is estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to April 16 – up from one in 920 in the previous week. However, the ONS said the percentage of people testing positive appeared to have been level. An estimated 3,600 people in Wales had Covid-19, compared to 3,300 the previous week.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the estimate is around one in 660 people - up from one in 710 in the previous week. The estimated number of people testing positive rose from 2,600 to 2,800 week-on-week. The ONS said that in Northern Ireland, the percentage of people testing positive had decreased in the two weeks up to April 16, compared to the week ending April 3 when it was one in 300.


The estimate for Scotland is around one in 560, down from one in 500 and the lowest since estimates began for Scotland in October.

The ONS has seen lower infection levels in those aged 2 to 11 and in the over 35s. However, it said for those between 11 and 35, the trend remains uncertain.

“We continue to see encouraging trends for much of the UK, with the infection rate decreasing in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. In Wales, the infection rate appears to have been level in the week ending 16 April 2021," Sarah Crofts, Senior Statistician for the COVID-19 Infection Survey said.

She added that in England, the infection rate is now around a twelfth of the level seen at the start of the year.

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have decreased in North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands and London, the ONS said.

The trend was uncertain for all other regions.

North-west England had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to April 16: around one in 370.

South-west England had the lowest estimate: around one in 1,540.

While coronavirus rates fall, the R value has increased slightly to between 0.8 and 1.0. It means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 10 other people.Last week, the government reported an R value in England between 0.7 and 1.0.

A growth rate of between -5% and -1% means that the number of new infections is shrinking by between 1% and 5% every day. These estimates represent the transmission of COVID-19 2 to 3 weeks ago, due to the time delay between someone being infected, developing symptoms, and needing healthcare.

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