Covid infections and hospitalisations fall as experts praise autumn vaccinations

The situation in the UK was described as "generally a positive one" by the Office for National Statistics. Credit: PA

The latest wave of Covid-19 infections in the UK appears to have peaked, with cases falling in all four nations for the first time in nearly three months.

1.5 million people in private UK households tested positive for coronavirus in the week to 1 November - an 18% decrease from 1.9 million the week before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Hospital numbers are dropping across the country, as health experts said the autumn booster campaign had prevented high levels of serious illness.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

The current wave's apparent peak of around two million infections in mid-October is just over half the peak of nearly four million reached in early July.

Sarah Crofts, ONS deputy director for the Covid-19 infection survey, said the new figures showed the picture across the UK was “generally a positive one”.

“Infections have decreased in all age groups in England, including the over-70s, which are still among the highest infected,” she added.

“There was also a decrease in infections among these older ages in Wales, though the trend is uncertain in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“We will continue to monitor the data as we move through winter.”

A mix of Omicron variants drove the latest wave, all of which are being monitored, though none have yet been identified as variants of concern.

Wales has seen its third consecutive weekly fall, with infections now standing at 72,400, the equivalent of one in 40 people, down from 77,500.

In Northern Ireland, the latest estimate for infections is 39,900, down sharply from 61,200.

Scotland has seen infections fall to 107,300, down from 141,400, meaning it now has the lowest prevalence of the virus of all four UK nations.

The autumn vaccination programme has aided a fall in Covid infections and hospitalisations, experts said. Credit: PA Images

The ONS infection survey is the most reliable measure of the prevalence of coronavirus and is based on a sample of swab tests from households across the UK.

Dr Mary Ramsay, director of public health programmes at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “It is hugely encouraging that Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations are still in decline across the UK.

“This goes to show how effective the vaccine programme continues to be and we thank everyone who has come forward for their latest vaccination so far.

“However, it is still vital that anyone who has not had their booster this autumn does so as soon as possible. Vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself, your family and the NHS, particularly as we head into winter.”

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Around three-quarters (75.4%) of people aged 80 and over in England are now likely to have received an autumn booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine, along with a similar proportion (76.2%) of 75 to 79-year-olds.

All people aged 50 and over are able to book an appointment for the booster, providing they had their last jab at least three months ago.

Doses are also available to frontline health and care workers, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

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