Record number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England
Written by on 24 December 2020
A record number of people have tested positive for COVID-19 in England, according to the latest data.
Figures from NHS Test and Trace show that between 10 and 16 December, 173,875 people received a positive result – the highest weekly total of positive coronavirus cases since the Test and Trace scheme began in May and a 58% increase on the previous week.
In total, nearly two million people were tested at least once in England during that period – a 12% increase on the previous week.
The data shows that 8.7% of people who took tests tested positive, compared to 6.2% the previous week.
There was also “a notable increase” in the number of people transferred to the contact tracing system.
Nearly 140,000 people were referred to Test and Trace staff – 15 times more than at the end of August.
Of these, just over 88% percent were reached and told to self-isolate. This is broadly unchanged on 87.5% in the previous week.
Meanwhile, 37.1% of test results were received within 24 hours, down from 51.7% on the previous week.
Separately, positive cases of coronavirus are increasing sharply in parts of the UK, with around one in 60 people now testing positive in Wales and one in 85 in England, figures suggest.
The prevalence of COVID-19 cases in England jumped again in the week from 12 – 18 December, with around 645,800 people estimated to be infected, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Thursday.
The ONS statistics show that an estimated 52,200 people in private households in Wales had COVID-19 in the same period.
Prevalence in the preceding week was one in 95 in England and one in 90 in Wales, it estimated.
Experts believe a new mutated coronavirus variant, which is thought to be more contagious, is driving cases up across the country.
Originally found in Kent, the variant is thought to be up to 70% more transmissible and led to the creation of the new Tier 4 restrictions.
Around half of the most recent positive cases in England could be caused by the new variant, the ONS said, with the proportion rising to as high as 68% of cases in London.
Meanwhile, England has banned travel from South Africa after two cases of a second even more transmissible COVID-19 variant, linked to the nation, were found in the UK.