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Covid cases down but too soon to tell if UK has passed peak, say experts | Coronavirus

Coronavirus infections have fallen slightly in most of the UK, figures from the Office for National Statistics show, although experts analysing the data say it is too soon to say whether infections have passed their peak.

The ONS data, which is based on swabs collected from randomly selected households, shows that in the week ending 9 April about 4.42 million people in the UK had Covid, about one in 15 people, down from one in 13 the week before.

Infections fell in England and Scotland from one in 13 to one in 14 and one in 17 respectively, but remained roughly steady in Wales, where for the second week running about one in 13 people are thought to have had Covid. In Northern Ireland infections fell from about one in 16 to about one in 19 people.

“Across most parts of the UK infections have thankfully begun to decrease. It is too early to say if we have passed the peak of infections, and infections overall remain high,” said Sarah Crofts, the head of analytical outputs for the Covid-19 Infection Survey. “We will continue to carefully monitor the data moving forward.”

While the data suggests overall the UK’s Covid levels have fallen from recent record highs, the situation varies, not only between but within countries.

In England, infection levels have declined in the most recent week in the north-west, east of England, London, south-east and south-west. However, they have risen in the north-east, which now has the highest proportion of people testing positive, at 7.9%. In Yorkshire and the Humber, east Midlands and West Midlands the trend over the past week is unclear.

Declines have been recorded in England across most age groups; however, the trend in the week ending 9 April was unclear for those in school years 7 to 11 and those aged 70 and over, with 7.2% of the latter thought to have had Covid in the most recent week, the highest level yet for that age group.

According to recent hospital data, the number of Covid patients in hospital and admissions appear to have reached a peak in the UK, with signs that both may now be falling.

Data released on Thursday by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reveals hospital admissions for England fell from 21.19 per 100,000 population for the week from 28 March to 18.90 per 100,000 population, for the week beginning 4 April.

However, levels remain high: on Wednesday there were 15,399 Covid patients in hospital in England alone, and experts say the very high Covid rates are causing major disruption in the NHS, including delaying attempts to reduce the large backlogs of people requiring hospital care.

The UKHSA report also sheds light on the Covid vaccination programme, revealing that more than a quarter – 26.1% – of people aged 75 and above have received their spring booster vaccination, up from 15.3% the week before. The figures include those who have come forward for a third dose (first booster) since the programme officially began on 21 March, as well as those who have received a second booster.

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