Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections


COVID-19 infections continued to decrease in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland in the week ending 24 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:

  • 1.42% in England (1 in 70 people)

  • 1.26% in Wales (1 in 80 people)

  • 1.52% in Northern Ireland (1 in 65 people)

  • 1.44% in Scotland (1 in 70 people)

An estimated 2.0 million people in private households in the UK (3.0% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 2 January 2023.

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Total people infected

The estimated percentages of people infected with COVID-19 was higher during the Omicron variant periods

The estimated percentages of people infected with COVID-19 in each separate period when different variants were most common, are:

  • 7.0% in the pre-Alpha period (26 April until 7 December 2020)

  • 8.1% in the Alpha period (8 December 2020 until 17 May 2021)

  • 24.2% in the Delta period (18 May until 13 December 2021)

  • 33.6% in the BA.1 period (14 December 2021 until 21 February 2022)

  • 43.6% in the in BA.2 period (22 February until 6 June 2022)

  • 46.5% in the BA.4 or BA.5 period (7 June until 11 November 2022)

This data is from the Coronavirus Infection Survey (CIS) which started on 26 April 2020. We do not account for infections before the start of the survey, that is before 26 April 2020 and, therefore, underestimate the true cumulative incidence in the pre-Alpha period. The total number of people infected with COVID-19 is estimated separately in each time period and may include people who have been previously infected with COVID-19.

Last updated: 9 February 2023

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey: Cumulative incidence, in England, 09 February 2023 technical article

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Young people more likely to have been infected during the Delta variant period

The percentage of people who have had COVID-19 across all variants and age groups

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This analysis estimates the percentage of people who have been infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) at least once during each variant period. In the Delta period (18 May to 13 December 2021) more people were infected with COVID-19 than when compared with earlier variant periods. This was especially for those of younger age groups with 55.1% of 12- to 16-year-olds being infected with COVID-19 in the Delta period. This is in contrast with only 8.2% of those aged 70 years and over.

This data are from the Coronavirus Infection Survey (CIS) which started on 26 April 2020. We do not account for infections before the start of the survey, that is before 26 April 2020 and, therefore, underestimate the true cumulative incidence in the pre-Alpha period. The total number of people infected with COVID-19 is estimated separately in each time period and may include people who have been previously infected with COVID-19.

Last updated: 9 February 2023

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey: Cumulative incidence, in England, 09 February 2023 technical article

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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, 9 January 2022 to 24 January 2023

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COVID-19 infections continued to decrease in England (1.42%), Wales (1.26%), Northern Ireland (1.52%) and Scotland (1.44%) in the week ending 24 January 2023.

Since mid-December 2022, most COVID-19 infections in the UK have been the Omicron variant BQ.1, a sub-lineage of BA.5, and BA2.75 or it's sub-lineages. The Omicron BQ.1 variant accounted for 44.0% of all sequenced infections in the week ending 15 January 2023.

BA.2.75 and its sub-lineages (that include XBB and CH.1.1) accounted for 47.1% of sequenced infections, with CH.1.1 (and its sub-lineages) accounting for 28.2% of all sequenced infections in the week ending 15 January 2023. Sequenced infections refer to the positive cases that have undergone additional analysis to identify the variant.

Last updated: 3 February 2023

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

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Infections by age

Trends for COVID-19 infections varied across age groups in England

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In England, the infection rate increased for those aged 2 years to school Year 6, school Year 7 to school Year 11, and those aged 35 to 49 years in the week ending 24 January 2023. In the same week, the infection rate continued to decrease for those aged 50 to 69 years and those aged 70 years and over. The trend was uncertain for those in school Year 12 to age 24 years and those aged 25 to 34 years.

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

Last updated: 3 February 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 most English regions

Modelled daily percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs by region, England, 14 December 2022 to 24 January 2023

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In the week ending 24 January 2023, the infection rate continued to decrease in the East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, London, the South East and the South West. The trend was uncertain in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and The Humber.

Uncertainty around regional estimates is higher than for England overall.

Last updated: 3 February 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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Long COVID

2.0 million people in the UK were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 2 January 2023

An estimated 2.0 million people in private households in the UK (3.0% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 2 January 2023. Of those, around 9 in 10 (89%) first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least 12 weeks previously. Over half (61%) reported experiencing long COVID symptoms for at least one year. Over one-third (35%) 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 (52%), shortness of breath (48%) and muscle ache (47%). Symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 1.5 million people, or 77% 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: 2 February 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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