Around one in 50 people are thought to have had the disease in England over the same period (Picture: AFP/Reuters)
One in 30 people living in private households in London had coronavirus between December 27 and January 2, ‘frightening’ new estimates suggest.
It is significantly higher than the one in 50 people thought to be infected over the same period in England – some 2.06% of the population, according to new data from Office for National Statistics (ONS). Those figures do not include people in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
The bleak figures come as the daily number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK topped 60,000 for the first time.
London has by far the highest regional rate and also the highest rate seen for the whole of the UK pandemic. The figure for south-east England, eastern England and north-west England is estimated to be one in 45; for the East Midlands it is one in 50; for north-east England – one in 60; and for the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber – one in 65. For south-west England the estimate is one in 135.
But the statistics from the ONS Covid-19 infection survey – widely seen as one of the most accurate indications of infection rates – suggest more than 1 million people in England had Covid in the week, which overlapped December 2020 to January 2021.
Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, described the latest figures as ‘frighteningly high’, adding that for comparison, ONS data from June showed that English infection numbers were around one in 4,000.
Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England, ‘London’s Covid-19 infection rates are the highest we’ve seen anywhere in the country at any point during the pandemic. The new variant of the virus which transmits more rapidly is widespread and dominant across London, so the ask is simple – it is critical we must all stay at home.’
He said London’s hospitals were caring for hundreds of ‘new seriously unwell’ Covid patients each day.
It comes as a leading professor told Metro.co.uk that the NHS is likely to face more than 5,000 daily hospital admissions in the coming days and weeks – posing a major threat to the health service.
NHS London region tweeted tonight: ‘Covid-19 cases are rising in London and our hospitals and ambulance services are under immense pressure’, in a message echoed by Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Meanwhile, New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) scientist Professor Robert Dingwall cautioned that cases topping 60,000 for the first time on Tuesday is partly due to the rise in demand for tests over Christmas.
Prof Dingwall, a leading medical sociologist who advises the Government, said: ‘This is obviously disappointing, although it will still be reflecting pre-existing Christmas infections and something of a bulge in demand for tests.
‘The data continue to be quite unstable from the holiday period and it may take another few days before we have a clear picture.’
This evening the Prime Minister used the infection rate to justify why there was ‘no choice’ other than going into lockdown.
Boris Johnson said: ‘When the Office of National Statistics is telling us that more than 2% of the population is now infected – that’s over one million people in England – and when today we have reported another 60,000 new cases. The number of patients in hospitals is now 40% higher than the first peak in April.’
At the Downing Street Press Conference, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, also described one in 50 people having the virus as ‘really quite a large number indeed’.
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