Across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, individuals testing positive for COVID continued to decrease, with the lowest rate of infection in London.
News reporter @laurenvrussell
Friday 27 January 2023 14:40, UK
COVID infection levels have continued to fall in the UK, according to data recorded by the Office for National Statistics.
In the week ending 17 January, an estimated 1.1 million people in private households are likely to have had COVID, which is down 39% from 1.8 million in the previous week.
This is the lowest total since late November.
The number of people in hospital with the virus has also fallen by 40% since the start of the year, according to NHS data, providing further evidence the virus is less prevalent.
The ONS survey showed in England, an estimated one in 60 people tested positive, in comparison to one in 55 in Wales, one in 30 in Northern Ireland and one in 55 in Scotland.
Infections peaked at 3.0 million at the end of December 2022 after a surge in cases in the run-up to Christmas.
The majority of current COVID infections are due to the variant known as BQ.1, which is part of the Omicron family.
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COVID-19 by region and age
Infections fell in all regions across the UK.
In London around one in 57 (1.3%) people had the virus, while in the South West it was one in 50 (2%).
Analysis also showed that infection rates decreased in all age groups, except those aged two-10, where the trend was uncertain.
The 70 and overs category has the highest rate at one in 48 (2.1%) followed by 50-69 at around one in 62 (1.8%) on previous weeks.
Michelle Bowen, ONS head of health surveillance, said the “picture is generally a positive one”, with infections in England “back below one million and the lowest they’ve been in seven weeks”.
The number of people in hospital in England with COVID currently stands at 5,632. This figure peaked at 9,535 on 29 December – still significantly below previous waves.
Booster vaccines planned for autumn and spring
The latest survey keeps in line with data obtained from the 2022 COVID autumn booster programme, which launched back in early September.
More than 82% of people aged 75 and over have received the jab. A total of 64.5% of those aged 50 and over have also had a booster vaccination.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, said that although flu and COVID cases are falling, “winter is not over yet and we need to guard against further surges”.
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She encouraged eligible individuals to come forward and get a booster vaccination, which was echoed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in order to “reduce severe disease across the population,” and “protect the NHS”.