Covid: Slight rise in cases in UK, ONS statistics suggest


Scientists are increasingly confident that the epidemic is growing in England.

This shift is reflected in their estimate of R – the number of people each infected individual passes the virus to.

Last week, it was somewhere between 0.9 and 1.1 (maybe shrinking, maybe growing) and now they think it’s between 1 and 1.1 (so almost certainly growing, albeit slowly).

The figures in Scotland and Northern Ireland still allow some possibility that their pandemics might be shrinking and the Welsh estimate is lower still (0.8-1.0).

They do warn about reading too much into precise figures for R. When case numbers are low a single outbreak in one part of the country can really skew the numbers.

But a return to a growing epidemic won’t be a shock to most – society is opening up again and we’re dealing with a newer type of coronavirus that seems to be spreading faster than the one we were used to.

Infections and cases have been rising slowly over the past two weeks, and the rises aren’t just in the variant hotspots.

We’re also starting to see rises in the number of people going into hospital. But we’re still a long way from the picture we saw over the winter.

Fewer than one-in-1,000 people have coronavirus, according to the latest estimates from the ONS.

That is up by about a quarter in the past fortnight, but is still far below the levels we saw last winter and the growth is slower than we saw at that time too.

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