COVID-19: Number of people testing positive for the coronavirus in UK rises sharply

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has increased around the UK, according to the latest official numbers.

England, Wales and Scotland saw a rise in the percentage of the population with the virus in the week of 6-12 December. Numbers in Northern Ireland no longer appear to be decreasing.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that one in 95 people in England tested positive – an estimated 567,300.

This is a rise from 481,500 people – or one in 115 – on the previous week.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics do not include people in hospitals, care home or other institutional settings.

ANALYSIS: With rates this high, hospital admissions will go up in the New Year
By science correspondent Thomas Moore

We are experiencing an astonishing surge in COVID infections.

Latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows the virus swiftly started spreading as lockdown was eased in almost every region.

But south of a line roughly between Bristol and Norwich cases have soared.

London and the East Midlands saw infection rates rise by 40% in just one week after restrictions were eased at the start of December.

The South East and East of England saw smaller rises.

The North West and Yorkshire, which were the hotspots before lockdown, have continued their downward trajectory.

Looking at age groups the highest infection rates continue to be in secondary school age pupils, though the rise may be slowing.

This data is from the 6 to 12 December. Daily figures from Public Health England suggest the situation has got even worse in the last week – though they don’t include asymptomatic cases, as the ONS data does.

It’s people who carry the virus, but don’t show symptoms, who are the real peril of the Christmas get-together.

Many people will be seeing elderly relatives, and with infection rates as high this hospital admissions will surely rise in the New Year.

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