COVID data indicates surge in cases – and one part of England has UK’s highest infection rate


The COVID pandemic is long gone, but we are still being stalked by the virus.

Boots reports that sales of COVID tests have jumped by more than a third this month as people suffer more coughs, sore throats and headaches.

And users of the ZOE health app are also reporting more COVID symptoms.

Data for 29 July shows that 789,695 people across the UK are estimated to have symptomatic COVID.

Rates are currently highest in the South West of England with between 931 and 1,628 daily new cases per million people – with Wales not far behind with between 591 and 1,755 new reports a day per million people.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, rates are at their lowest with somewhere between 328 and 1,088 new cases a day per million people.

These are huge ranges, so there is uncertainty about the actual number.

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The Government no longer funds the more reliable and comprehensive infection survey run by the Office for National Statistics.

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Nevertheless, the ZOE data does show a 30% rise in daily cases since the start of July.

But they are still well below the peaks of the pandemic. The ZOE data shows there were more than 3.8 million daily new cases as Omicron surged last spring.

The recent rise also shows a small increase in people admitted to hospital with COVID.

The latest data from the Government dashboard shows 677 patients in England had a positive test in the week to 21 July, up from 465 at the end of June.

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‘Pandemic planning was inadequate’

Again, that’s well below the Omicron peak of 9,618.

Still, the UK Health Protection Agency says it is keeping an eye on the figures.

So what’s going on? Surely we were rid of the virus long ago?

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Waning immunity will play a large part.

With less virus circulating it is many months since many people will have been infected.

And it is even longer ago that most had a dose of the vaccine.

Last autumn, everyone over 50 was urged to have a booster.

But uptake was just 40% in people in their early 50s in England and likely to be similar in the rest of the UK.

In those in their late 50s, it was 52%.

It’s only when you get to the over 75s, the group most at risk of serious infection, that uptake climbed above 80%.

The over-75s were also eligible for a booster in the spring of this year, with 70% taking up the offer. So their protection is likely to be holding up.

Nurses wearing PPE in St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south-west London

But protection in the rest of the population is falling off.

COVID is here to stay.

It’s far milder now than it was, with no sign of a troubling new variant in more than 18 months.

But rates will go on rising and falling, just like so many other respiratory infections.

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