Coronavirus: Positive tests continue to fall in England, says ONS

By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

Image source, Getty Images

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England is continuing to fall, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Around one in 1,700 people were infected between 25 May and 7 June, or 33,000 individuals, compared to one in 1,000 before then.

The figures are based on 20,000 tests on people in private households.

Everyone in the study was tested whether they had symptoms or not.

The ONS figures are thought to give a good picture of the proportion of people infected with the virus in the community - but they do not include infections in hospitals and care homes.

However, there are wide margins of error around the figures because they are based on small numbers of people testing positive.

As of 11 June, there were 202 more deaths reported in the UK, taking the total number of deaths with a positive test for Covid-19 to 41,481 since the epidemic began.

In this analysis, 19,933 people from 9,179 households carried out their own swab tests of their throat and nose, which look for the presence of the virus.

Just 11 individuals from eight households tested positive for coronavirus, allowing statisticians to come up with estimates for the whole population.

At the end of April, the percentage of the population in England testing positive was 0.4% - now it's less than 0.1%, the ONS says.

That means an average of 31,600 new infections occurring per week in private households, or 4,500 per day.

The ONS analysis is part of a long-term study to track coronavirus in the general population with researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Manchester and Public Health England.

The NHS test and trace scheme in England identified 31,000 close contacts from 8,000 people testing positive during its first week of operation, up to 3 June.

But only two-thirds of cases shared details of their close contacts so they could be followed up and asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

There is no new data on how many people have already had the virus, using antibody tests of blood samples from people in households.

This is estimated to be around 7% in England as of 24 May.