Covid infection rates fall despite lockdown lifting, latest figures show

Health Editor Emily Morgan reports on the latest data which despite lockdown rules easing, shows Covid is still in retreat

The number of Covid infections continues to decline across the UK despite lockdown easing, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

The ONS estimated around one in 1,010 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to April 24 – down from one in 610 the previous week.

This is the lowest figure since the week to September 5 last year when the estimate stood at one in 1,400.

ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan says the latest data is positive news

The ONS also said just 0.03% of people over 70 had tested positive for Covid in the week ending April 24.

The low numbers among the most vulnerable show the vaccine programme is working.

The latest government figures say almost 27% of people in the UK have had their second jab - including most of the people vulnerable to the virus.

The fact Covid infections have continued to fall despite all four nations of the UK easing lockdown in recent weeks will be welcome news for the government and devolved nations.

The ONS infection survey is seen as one of the key indicators the government monitors to determine if their lockdown lifting programme is working.

Sarah Crofts from the ONS said: “We have come a long way since the beginning of the year, when we saw 20 times the level of infection we see now. The infection rate has continued to decrease across the UK and we are back to levels seen near the end of last summer."

Rates are down across the country, with the ONS estimating 1 in 1,570 In Wales have Covid, with 1 in 1940 in Northern Ireland and 1 in 640 in Scotland.

England and Wales lifted more lockdown measures on April 12 and some scientists warned it may lead to more infections, but the figures from the ONS show so far, this isn't the case.

Scotland allowed shoppers to return on April 5, and hospitality opened on reopened on April 26 - although the latest ONS figures only go up to April 24.

All four governments are planning more lockdown lifting in May with hospitality allowed to welcome customers indoors from May 17 in England.

May 17 will also be when the international travel ban is expected to end for people in England, with many hoping to go on a foreign holiday.

At a regional level in England, rates are down in every area except Yorkshire and Humber where they've stayed the same.

Yorkshire and the Humber also had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to April 24: around one in 530.

In the South West, less than 0.05% of people tested positive for Covid-19 in the week ending April 24.

Secondary school children continue to be the age group that has the highest number of infections, with 0.3% of testing positive for Covid.

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