Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections


COVID-19 infections continued to decrease in England, Wales and Scotland in the week ending 17 January 2023, and for Northern Ireland in the week ending 14 January 2023.

The estimated percentage of people living in private households (those not in care homes or other communal establishments) testing positive for COVID-19 was:

  • 1.62% in England (1 in 60 people)

  • 1.85% in Wales (1 in 55 people)

  • 3.08% in Northern Ireland (1 in 30 people)

  • 1.76% in Scotland (1 in 55 people)

An estimated 2.1 million people in private households in the UK (3.3% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 4 December 2022.

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Infections

COVID-19 infections continued to decrease across all UK countries

Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs, UK, 31 December 2021 to 17 January 2023

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COVID-19 infections continued to decrease in England (1.62%), Wales (1.85%) and Scotland (1.76%) in the week ending 17 January 2023, and in Northern Ireland (3.08%) in the week ending 14 January 2023.

Since the end of June 2022, most COVID-19 infections in the UK have been the Omicron variant BA.5 or its sub-lineages, the majority of which are now the sub-lineage BQ.1. In the week ending 22 January 2023, the Omicron BQ.1 variant, a sub-lineage of BA.5, accounted for 46.3% of all sequenced infections. Sequenced infections refer to the positive cases that have undergone additional analysis to identify the variant.

Other BA.5 variants (and sub-lineages, excluding BQ.1) made up 9.0% of all sequenced infections. BA.2.75 and its sub-lineages (that include XBB and CH.1.1) accounted for 42.2% of sequenced infections, with the sub-lineage CH.1.1 and its sub-lineages accounting for 24.6% of sequenced infections in the week ending 22 January 2023.

Last updated: 27 January 2023

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey bulletin

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Infections by region

COVID-19 infections continued to decrease in all English regions

Modelled daily percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs by region, England, 7 December 2022 to 17 January 2023

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The infection rate continued to decrease in all English regions in the week ending 17 January 2023. The South West had the highest infection rate (2.01%), while London had the lowest (1.35%).

Uncertainty around regional estimates is higher than for England overall.

Last updated: 27 January 2023

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey bulletin

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Percentage of the population testing positive for COVID-19 was consistent across the majority of Integrated Care Boards (ICBs)

Modelled percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs by ICBs in England, week beginning 5 October 2022 to 28 December 2022

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Between the weeks beginning 5 October 2022 and 28 December 2022 there was little variation between ICBs in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19. In the week beginning 28 December 2022, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 was consistent across the majority of ICBs in England. For this week, the highest percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 was 5.02% in NHS Devon ICB. The lowest percentage was 3.40% in NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB.

ICBs are a statutory NHS organisation created under the Health and Care Act 2022 and range in population from 500,000 to 3.1 million people. They provide an intermediate geographical breakdown between the available regional and subregional estimates. All modelled estimates are provisional and subject to revision.

Last updated: 23 January 2023

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) positivity in England by Integrated Care Board bulletin

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The highest peaks for COVID-19 infections for all English regions were during the periods when the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants were dominant

Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for COVID-19 on nose and throat swabs by region, England, week ending 23 December 2021 to week ending 5 September 2022

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In the period when the Alpha variant was dominant (18 December 2020 to 15 May 2021), the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) peaked across all English regions in January 2021.

During the period when the Delta variant was dominant (22 May to 19 December 2021), the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 remained relatively high across all regions from July to December 2021. The North East was the first English region to reach its peak COVID-19 positivity (3.20% on 21 July 2021). It was 13 October 2021 before another English region reached its peak positivity estimate (2.24% in the North West).

During the period when the Omicron BA.1 variant was dominant (20 December 2021 to 1 March 2022), London was the English region that had the first peak in COVID-19 positivity (8.79% on 28 December 2021). All other English regions reached their peaks in January and February 2022. In the period when the Omicron BA.2 variant was dominant (2 March to 15 June 2022), all English regions peaked at around 7% to 9%, in the 14 days between 23 March and 6 April 2022.

During the period when the:

  • Alpha variant was dominant, peak positivity across the regions ranged from approximately 1.5% to 3.0%

  • Delta variant was dominant, peak positivity across the regions ranged from approximately 2.0% to 3.5%

  • Omicron BA.1 variant was dominant, peak positivity across the regions ranged from approximately 5% to 10%

  • Omicron BA.2 variant was dominant, peak positivity across the regions ranged from approximately 7% to 9%

Across regions, sub-regions and time periods, different factors have influenced COVID-19 positivity estimates, such as restrictions in place at the time. This analysis does not account for all of these factors, and therefore should not be considered as providing statistical evidence for differences in positivity estimates.

Last updated: 12 January 2023

Read more about this in our Regional and sub-regional estimates of coronavirus (COVID-19) positivity over time article

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Sub-regional COVID-19 positivity over time

Modelled percentage of the population testing positive for COVID-19 on nose and throat swabs by sub-regional geography, UK, 8 November 2020 to 5 September 2022

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Modelled estimates for sub-regions of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland over time, from 8 November 2020 to 5 September 2022.

Reference weeks have sometimes varied between UK countries. Additionally, because of low levels of infection, it has not always been possible to provide sub-regional estimates for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, resulting in gaps in estimates over time. Sub-regional areas are defined by pooling local authorities together; for further information, refer to our methodology article.

Last updated: 12 January 2023

Read more about this in our Regional and sub-regional estimates of coronavirus (COVID-19) positivity over time article

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Infections by age

COVID-19 infections continued to decrease across most age groups in England

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In England, the infection rate continued to decrease in all age groups, except in those aged 2 years to school Year 6 where the trend was uncertain (week ending 17 January 2023).

Infection rates were highest for those aged 70 years and over, and lowest for those aged 2 years to school Year 6. The age groups with the highest and lowest infection rates have varied throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Uncertainty around age group estimates is higher than for England overall.

Last updated: 27 January 2023

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey bulletin

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Long COVID

2.1 million people in the UK were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 4 December 2022

An estimated 2.1 million people in private households in the UK (3.3% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 4 December 2022. Of those, around 9 in 10 (87%) first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least 12 weeks previously. Over half (57%) reported experiencing long COVID symptoms for at least one year. Around one-third (30%) reported experiencing symptoms for at least two years.

The most common long COVID symptom continued to be fatigue (71% of those with self-reported long COVID), followed by difficulty concentrating (49%), shortness of breath (47%) and muscle ache (46%). Symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 1.6 million people, or 76% of those with self-reported long COVID.โ€ฏ

Self-reported long COVID was more common in:

  • those aged 35 to 69 years

  • females

  • people living in more deprived areas

  • those working in social care

  • those aged 16 years and over who were not working and not looking for work

  • those with another activity-limiting health condition or disabilityโ€ฏ

There has been a change in the way the data are collected. As a result, these estimates cannot be compared with those published before 6 October 2022. For more details of these changes, see our Measuring the data section of the release.

Last updated: 5 January 2023

Read more about this in our Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK bulletin

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Reinfections

Most reinfections happened during the period when the Omicron variants were dominant

Percentage of first and second coronavirus infections by period in which different variants were dominant, UK, 2 July 2020 to 23 November 2022

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Of all identified second infections between 2 July 2020 and 23 November 2022, the majority (93.9%) have been in the period when the Omicron variants were dominant. The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants have accounted for just under half (48.2%) of all identified second infections.

Of all second infections, 35.5% had first infections when the Alpha variant was dominant, 33.2% had first infections when the Delta variant was dominant, and 31.3% had first infections when the Omicron variants were dominant.

We define the Alpha period as prior to 17 May 2021 and the Delta period as 17 May to 19 December 2021. We define the period when the Omicron BA.1 variant was dominant as 20 December 2021 to 1 March 2022, the period when the Omicron BA.2 variant was dominant as 2 March to 15 June 2022, and the period when the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants were dominant as 16 June 2022 onwards. These are the periods during which these respective variants were most common. Other variants were in circulation during these times.

Last updated: 14 December 2022

Find the data in our Coronavirus Infection Survey, characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19, UK: 14 December 2022 dataset

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Further information


The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS) estimates the number of infections in the community population excluding people in hospitals, care homes and other institutional settings. People are randomly selected and tested regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms. Positivity rates are modelled estimates adjusted to represent the whole UK population. NHS Test and Trace data only refer to people who have taken and reported test results. Unlike CIS estimates, this data is affected by testing capacity and changes in government policy over time.

To find out more about infections data from different sources visit our more information page.

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