Just one in 70 people had Covid in England last week as infections hit eight-month low

Just one in 70 people had Covid in England last week as infections hit eight-month low — but 2MILLION Brits are estimated to be living with Long Covid

Statisticians estimate 784,100 people in England had Covid each day during the week ending May 27 The figure is down 10 per cent on the 874,400 estimated to have the virus  in the week up to May 21 Despite the fall in current infections, separate data showed nearly 2million Britons claim they have long Covid 

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England’s Covid infections hit an eight-month low last week with just one in 70 people thought to have the virus on any given day, official figures showed today.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) statisticians estimate 784,100 people had Covid each day during the week ending May 27.  

The figure — based on random swabs from hundreds of thousands of people across the country — is down 10 per cent on the 874,400 estimated in the week up to May 21 and is the lowest seen since September.

ONS’ figures are considered the gold-standard for Covid surveillance because they do not rely on people to come forward for testing, which has greatly reduced since the end of free swabs.  

But despite the fall in current infections, separate ONS data showed nearly 2million Britons claim they have long Covid.

Its survey found one in 32 people in the UK said they were still experiencing symptoms at least four weeks after infection.

The figure, which covers up to May 1, is up 10 per cent on the nearly 1.8million who self-reported the condition a month ago.

The estimates are based on a survey of around 363,000 people across the UK, and their answers were not necessarily confirmed by a diagnosis. 

Experts have previously cast doubt over the ONS’s long Covid findings, with some saying they are likely to be an overestimation given symptoms like headaches and fatigue can be linked to a variety of conditions. 

But despite uncertainty around the data, MPs today described the record number as a ‘grim milestone’.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) statisticians estimate 784,100 people had Covid each day during the week ending May 27

The ONS infection survey showed Covid prevalence was lower in Wales and Northern Ireland — where one in 75 were thought to be infected — than England, but higher in Scotland — where the number is one in 50

An Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey found 2million in the UK said they were still experiencing symptoms at least four weeks after infection as of May 1. The figure was up 10 per cent on the nearly 1.8million who self-reported the condition in the month up to April 3

Separate ONS data showed Covid antibody levels have now reached record levels across the UK, with booster jabs continuing to sustain people’s immunity

The ONS infection survey showed Covid prevalence was lower in Wales and Northern Ireland — where one in 75 were thought to be infected — than England, but higher in Scotland — where the number is one in 50.

In England, the percentage of people testing positive for Covid decreased in Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, the East of England, the South East and the South West.

Covid was most prevalent in the North East — where one in 46 had the virus — and least prevalent in the East Midland — where just one in 87 had it.

Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the ONS Covid Infection Survey, said: ‘Infections have continued to decrease across much of the UK, with infections in England now at levels seen prior to the Omicron variant, although Omicron BA.2 continues to remain dominant.

‘With the bank holiday weekend approaching, we will continue to closely monitor the data.’

Separate ONS data showed around 1.4million people said they were still experiencing symptoms three months after they were infected. The figure was up 8 per cent on the 1.3million in the group on April 3. 

Fatigue was the most common symptom, affecting 55 per cent. A third said they were short of breath and more than a fifth had continued coughs and muscle aches.

Statisticians also estimated 826,000 were still suffering from long Covid a year after catching the virus — the highest figure to date.

Estimates for long Covid in the UK have risen sharply in recent months, climbing from 1.3 million at the start of the year to reach 1.5 million by the end of January and 1.8 million in early April.

But there are still record Covid antibody levels in the UK 

Covid antibody levels are still at record levels across the UK, official data showed today.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed some 99.4 per cent of adults in England and Scotland tested positive for the virus-fighting proteins as of April 3. 

Around 99.3 per cent in Wales and Northern Ireland did as well.

In Great Britain, 95.5 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 and 94.6 per cent of children aged eight to 11 have Covid antibodies.

More than 99 per cent of people aged 16 and over have tested positive for the proteins every week since the start of January, in a sign of the continued effects of Britain’s booster programme.

Antibodies are part of the body’s defence against viruses, indicating levels of immunity to disease

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The increase is likely to reflect the impact of the Omicron variant of the virus, which saw record levels of infection across the country in the spring.

Of the 2million people with self-reported long Covid, 619,000 – nearly a third – first had the virus during the Omicron period.

The first Omicron wave began in the UK in December 2021 and was followed in March 2022 by another surge of infections driven by the BA.2 subvariant.

In contrast, 593,000 people with self-reported long Covid said they first had the virus in the early period of the pandemic before Alpha became the main variant in late 2020.

Around 1.2million said long Covid was badly affecting their day-to-day activities, while 346,000 said their lives were ‘limited a lot’. 

The condition was most commonly reported in people aged 35 to 69, women, people living in deprived areas and those in frontline jobs.

Campaigners said the figures showed the ‘scale and dangers of the Long Covid crisis’.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, chair of the all party parliamentary group on coronavirus, urged the Government to stop burying ‘their heads in the sand’.

She said: ‘For nearly two years we have been warning the UK Government about the scale and dangers of the Long Covid crisis and their failure to properly address it will continue to devastate lives, damage our economy and cripple public services by decreasing productivity and increasing labour shortages. 

‘After reaching this grim milestone, the Government cannot bury their heads in the sand any longer.’

The latest ONS figures show there continues to be higher prevalence of long Covid among people working in frontline public sector jobs.

Around 5.4 per cent per cent of social care workers said they were experiencing long Covid, the highest proportion for any occupation.

They were followed by people in teaching and education (4.6 per cent), health care (4.6 per cent) and the civil service or local government (4.1 per cent).

Some one in 40 (2.5 per cent) of social care workers said they been suffering long Covid since first having the virus at least 12 months ago.

Symptoms ranged from fatigue to loss of smell and taste, as well as shortness of breath

The figures come after separate ONS data showed Covid antibody levels are still at record levels across the UK.

Some 99.4 per cent of adults in England and Scotland tested positive for the virus-fighting proteins as of April 3, while 99.3 per cent in Wales and Northern Ireland did.

In the UK, 95.5 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 and 94.6 per cent of children aged eight to 11 have Covid antibodies.

More than 99 per cent of people aged 16 and over have tested positive for the proteins every week since the start of January. 

The high levels are a sign of the continued effects of Britain’s booster programme as well as some of the protection afforded by natural infection.

Antibodies are part of the body’s defence against viruses, indicating levels of immunity to disease. 

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