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This page was last updated at 12:00 on 26 February 2021.
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Infections and deaths
The percentage of people testing positive in every UK nation has continued to decrease
26 February 2021
An estimated 1 in 145 people tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) within the community population in England during the week ending 19 February 2021, equating to 373,700 people, or 0.69% of the community population.
This is lower than the week ending 12 February 2021, when 481,300 people (0.88%) were estimated to have COVID-19 in England.
The estimated percentage of people in the community – those in private homes and excluding hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings – testing positive continued to decrease in every nation.
In Wales, an estimated 14,700 people (0.48% of the community population or 1 in 205 people) were estimated to have COVID-19 in the week ending 19 February 2021, down from 24,600 people (0.81%) in the week ending 12 February 2021.
In Northern Ireland, an estimated 9,500 people (0.52% of the community population or around 1 in 195 people) had COVID-19 in the week ending 19 February 2021, down from 17,800 people (0.97%) in the week ending 12 February 2021.
In Scotland, an estimated 23,400 people (0.45% of the community population or 1 in 225 people) had COVID-19 in the week ending 19 February 2021, down from 29,200 people (0.55%) in the week ending 12 February 2021.
The decreases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland include all variants of the coronavirus.
In Scotland, both the percentage testing positive that were compatible with the new UK variant and were not compatible with the new UK variant have decreased, while the percentage testing positive where the virus level was too low for the variant to be identifiable has likely remained level.
In the week ending 19 February 2021, the percentage testing positive has continued to decrease in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland
Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs from 3 May 2020
- All estimates are subject to uncertainty, given that a sample is only part of the wider population. The model used to provide these estimates is a Bayesian model: these provide 95% credible intervals. A credible interval gives an indication of the uncertainty of an estimate from data analysis. 95% credible intervals are calculated so that there is a 95% probability of the true value lying in the interval.
- Official reported estimates are plotted at a reference point believed to be most representative of the given week.
- The official estimate presents the best estimate at that point in time. Modelled estimates are used to calculate the official reported estimate. The model smooths the series to understand the trend and is revised each week to incorporate new test results, providing the best indication of trend over time.
- Survey fieldwork for the pilot study began in England on 26 April 2020. In Wales, fieldwork began on 29 June 2020, in Northern Ireland fieldwork began on 26 July 2020 and in Scotland fieldwork began on 21 September 2020.
- Because of the presence of a bank holiday at the beginning of the usual time span for modelling positivity across the devolved administrations, we have reduced the time span by a day to enable the models to run effectively. This does not affect the England estimate, which typically uses fewer weeks, and it does not change the overall messaging for our modelled estimates.
Fewest number of COVID-19 deaths in six weeks
23 February 2021
There were 5,691 deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales in the week ending 12 February 2021 – the fewest since the week ending 1 January 2021.
Deaths from all causes also decreased in the most recent week, despite remaining above average for this time of year. In total, there were 15,354 deaths in England and Wales in the week ending 12 February, of which 37.1% involved COVID-19.
For the second consecutive week, the number of COVID-19 deaths fell in all English regions and in Wales
Number of deaths in Wales and regions in England, registered between 28 December 2019 and 12 February 2021
- Based on area of usual residence. Geographical boundaries are based on the most up-to-date information available at the time of publication.
- Figures exclude deaths of non-residents.
- Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
- All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
- The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are as follows; coronavirus (COVID-19) (U07.1 and U07.2).
- The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Week 1 2021 were affected by the Early May, Late May, August, Christmas and New Year Bank Holidays (Friday 8 May 2020, Monday 25 May 2020, Monday 31 August 2020, Friday 25 December 2020, Monday 28 December 2020, Friday 1 January 2021).
- The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
- The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
The total number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales is approaching 125,000 (124,978 registrations up to 12 February 2021). Around 74% of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred among people aged 75 years and over.
Our data are based on deaths registered in England and Wales and include all deaths where “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” was mentioned on the death certificates. Weekly figures are available by local authority and health board.
COVID-19 death rate rose in January 2021 but remained lower in England than in April 2020
25 February 2021
The coronavirus (COVID-19) was the leading cause of death in England and Wales in January 2021, for the third consecutive month.
COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death for 37.4% of all deaths registered last month in England, and 35.2% of all deaths registered in Wales, the highest proportions since the pandemic began.
A total of 68,796 deaths from all causes were registered in January 2021 in England, 29.5% higher than the five-year average for the same month (2015 to 2019). There were 4,431 deaths registered in Wales, 25.6% more than the five-year average for January. The five years used for the average are from 2015 to 2019, to compare with the number of deaths expected in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
Accounting for age, the COVID-19 death rate in England in January 2021 was 545.9 deaths per 100,000 people. The death rate increased between September 2020 and January 2021 but remained significantly lower than in April 2020. In Wales, the death rate in January 2021 due to COVID-19 was the highest rate so far, at 539.1 deaths per 100,000 people.
COVID-19 mortality rates in January were higher in more deprived areas of England and Wales. In England, the death rate due to COVID-19 in the most deprived areas was 710.4 deaths per 100,000 people, 1.8 times higher than in the least deprived areas (400.1 deaths per 100,000).
In Wales, the COVID-19 mortality rate in the most deprived areas (680.3 deaths per 100,000 people) was 1.5 times the mortality rate in the least deprived areas (444.7 deaths per 100,000 people).
Number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Middle layer Super Output Areas, England and Wales, deaths registered between 1 March 2020 and 31 January 2021
- Points on the map are placed at the centre of the local area they represent and do not show the actual location of deaths. The size of the circle is proportional to the number of deaths.
- To protect confidentiality, a small number of deaths have been reallocated between neighbouring areas. Given the method used for this, figures for some areas may be different to previously published data.
- Figures are for deaths registered rather than deaths occurring in each month.
- Figures exclude death of non-residents; geographical boundaries are based on the most up-to-date information available at the time of publication.
- Deaths "due to COVID-19" include only deaths where COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death.
- Locally adopted Middle-layer Super Output Area (MSOA) names are provided by House of Commons Library. While these names are not officially supported for National Statistics, they are provided here to help local users.
- Figures are provisional.
Diabetes, obesity and hypertension are likely to be risk factors for COVID-19 deaths. Analysis of death certificate data shows these conditions were mentioned at three times the rate in COVID-19 deaths than deaths from all causes in 2020.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was the most common pre-existing condition for COVID-19 deaths, identified in 25.3% of all deaths due to COVID-19. This is likely due to age being a risk factor and that a large proportion of these deaths occurred care homes deaths.
The percentage of people in patient-facing jobs testing positive has decreased
24 February 2021
There is evidence that the percentage testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased in patient-facing jobs, alongside a fall among those in non-patient-facing jobs, in England.
In the week ending 6 February 2021, the percentage of the population testing positive decreased in both groups.
This contrasts with analysis for the week ending 9 January 2021, where the percentage of the population testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) had decreased in non-patient-facing job roles but had increased amongst those in patient-facing roles.
The analysis shows the number of socially distanced and physical contacts that adults and school age children had with people outside their household decreased in January 2021, when England went into lockdown, and remains low in February 2021.
More information on our headline estimates of the overall number of positive cases in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, in the week ending 12 February 2021, are available in our latest bulletin.
In recent weeks, there is evidence that the percentage testing positive has decreased in those in both patient-facing and non-patient-facing job roles
Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs by patient-facing and non-patient-facing job roles and age ranges from 1 September 2020 to 6 February 2021
- All results are provisional and subject to revision.
- These statistics refer to infections reported in the community, by which we mean private households. These figures exclude infections reported in hospitals, care homes and other institutional settings.
- There are fewer people in patient facing roles in our sample than those in non-patient-facing roles. Therefore, the estimates for patient facing roles have a larger degree of uncertainty, represented by wider credible intervals.
Also published recently
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, antibody data for the UK: 16 February 2021
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey: characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19 in England, 22 February 2021
Economy, business and jobs
The economy increased by 1.2% in December 2020
12 February 2021
Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.2% in December 2020, following a revised 2.3% decline in November, when there were more extensive restrictions to activity. During December, a period of eased restrictions early in the month was followed by tighter restrictions to activity across all four nations of the UK later in the month.
December GDP is 6.3% below the levels seen in February 2020; this compares with 7.4% below February 2020 levels in November 2020.
Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.0% in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2020, following revised 16.1% growth in Quarter 3 (July to Sept).
The services sector acted as the main contribution to growth in December, increasing by 1.7% as a number of consuming facing industries reopened following the easing of restrictions in December. There was also strong growth in health, with the strongest contributions coming from the coronavirus testing and tracing schemes.
Elsewhere the construction sector acted as a drag on growth in December, falling by 2.9% following seven consecutive monthly increases. Despite the industry remaining broadly open, all types of work saw a fall in December 2020, as businesses continued to adhere to social distancing measures along with site shutdowns as part of the Christmas period.
Shopping for things other than food and medicine increased by 2%
25 February 2021
Of the 92% of adults in Great Britain who left home in the last seven days, the proportion who shopped for things other than food and medicine increased by 2%.
In the week ending 21 February 2021, the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) found that the proportion of adults who shopped for things other than food and medicine increased from the previous week to 9%; this continues the steady increase seen over the past four weeks from 5%.
Of the adults that reported they had left home in the last seven days, the proportion that did so to shop for food and medicine remained unchanged compared with the previous week at 76%.
According to the Department for Transport (DfT), on Monday 22 February 2021, the volume of all motor vehicle traffic was the highest it has been so far this year, but still 30% below the level seen on the Monday of the first week of February 2020.
According to exactEarth, there was an average of 332 daily ship visits in the week ending 21 February 2021, an increase from the previous week (34%), but lower than the same period last year (negative 5%).
There is a large increase in the unemployment rate, while the employment rate continues to fall
23 February 2021
Early estimates for January 2021 indicate that there were 28.3 million payrolled employees, a fall of 2.5% or 730,000 people, compared with the same period of the previous year. Compared with the previous month, the number of payrolled employees increased by 0.3% - equivalent to 83,000 people. Since February 2020, the number of payrolled employees has fallen by 726,000; however, the larger falls were seen at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Data from our Labour Force Survey shows the unemployment rate continued to increase, while the employment rate continued to fall. Labour Force Survey (LFS) responses are weighted to official population projections. As the current projections are 2018-based they are based on demographic trends that pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic. Rates published from the LFS remain robust; however, levels and changes in levels should be used with caution.
In the three months to December, the unemployment rate continued to increase while the employment rate continued to fall
UK employment, unemployment and economic inactivity rates, seasonally adjusted, between October to December 2005 and October to December 2020
The number of job vacancies in November 2020 to January 2021 was 26% lower than a year ago. This is an improvement on the position in summer 2020 when vacancies were down by nearly 60% year on year, but the rate of improvement has slowed in the past few months. Further restrictions and national lockdowns recently have had an impact on vacancies in some industries more than others, most notably the accommodation and food services industry.
Although total hours worked continued to increase from the low levels in the previous quarter, this increase slowed in the latest quarter.
The number of people temporarily away from work has fallen since its peak in April and May 2020, although it has increased slightly in November and December. The number of people away from work because of the pandemic and receiving no pay has also fallen since the start of the pandemic but risen slightly over the last two months.
Annual growth in average employee pay continued to strengthen; the growth is driven in part by compositional effects of a fall in the number and proportion of lower-paid employee jobs, and by increased bonuses, which had been postponed earlier in the year.
Redundancies have increased faster during the coronavirus pandemic than during the financial crisis of 2008 to 2009
19 February 2021
The rate of redundancies (redundancies per thousand employees) recorded in the UK since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has already exceeded the highest rate reached during the 2008 to 2009 financial crisis. The pandemic and lockdown measures across the UK in 2020 caused businesses to close temporarily, which contributed to the aggregate redundancy rate increasing to a record high of 14.2 per thousand employees between July and November 2020, based on Labour Force Survey (LFS) data.
Some groups of people have been more affected by the redundancies than others. For example, the redundancy rate for men (15.5 per thousand) was higher than that for women (12.8 per thousand). Of employees recorded as disabled, as measured by the Government Statistical Service, in the period July to November 2020, 21.1 per thousand were made redundant, compared with 13.0 per thousand of employees who were not disabled.
With the closure of non-essential retail and hospitality alongside other restrictions to businesses, 71% of the redundancies in the period July to November 2020 were attributed by LFS respondents to employers cutting staff because of a loss of trade. The remaining proportion were equally attributed to either “employer closing down” or “other reasons”. Both coronavirus and EU exit-related uncertainties may have caused some employers to reduce staff.
Between July and November 2020, the industry with the highest redundancy rate was the administrative and support services industry (35.8 per thousand), followed by the “other services” industry group, which includes arts, entertainment and recreation (30.5 per thousand). As these services largely depend on face-to-face contact between people, the pandemic and associated lockdown measures significantly reduced the demand for workers.
Redundancy rates across most industries increased since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic
Redundancy rates by industry, UK, per thousand employees, not seasonally adjusted, January to November 2020
Retail sales dropped in January 2021, but not as low as during the first lockdown
19 February 2021
In January 2021, retail sales volumes decreased by 8.2% when compared with December 2020 as tighter nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions affected sales. The amount spent also fell by 7.8%.
During January, widespread restrictions on non-essential retail were in place in England, Scotland and Wales, which feedback from retailers suggests had an effect on sales.
However, the impact of the January lockdown was not as large as that seen during the first full month of restrictions in April 2020. Retail sales volumes in January were 5.5% lower than pre-pandemic levels in February 2020. In April 2020, sales fell by 22.2% compared with February.
The proportion of shopping carried out online reached record levels in January, to 35.2% of all sales. This is an increase of 5.6 percentage points compared with December 2020, and an increase of 15.7 percentage points compared with January 2020.
The first January deficit for 10 years
19 February 2021
January’s public sector finance figures reflect the ongoing unprecedented impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the government’s support for individuals and businesses.
UK public sector borrowing in January 2021 was £8.8 billion, the highest January borrowing since monthly records began in 1993.
Borrowing makes up the shortfall between the spending of the government and other public sector organisations and their income, such as tax receipts.
Each January, tax receipts tend to be higher than in other months as self-assessment Income Tax liabilities are due this month. This usually leads to a public sector net surplus in January. However, this month the usual January tax boost could not offset the substantial increase in government spending during the pandemic, making this the first January deficit for 10 years.
Between April 2020 and January 2021, the public sector borrowed £270.6 billion, £222.0 billion more than in the same period a year ago. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated borrowing could reach £393.5 billion by the end of the financial year (March 2021).
The recent substantial increase in UK borrowing has led to a sharp increase in public sector net debt.
UK public sector net debt increased by £316.4 billion in the first 10 months of the financial year and currently stands at £2.1 trillion, or 97.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) – a level not seen since the early 1960s.
Also published recently
- Coronavirus and the impact on the UK travel and tourism industry
- Coronavirus and the impact on output in the UK economy: December 2020
- UK trade: December 2020
People and social impacts
More than 3 in 10 adults have had a COVID-19 vaccine dose
26 February 2021
Over a third of adults in Great Britain (35%) said they had received at least one dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, according to this week’s Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.
Among those aged 70 years and over, that vaccination proportion increased to 97% of adults surveyed.
The survey figures are from a sample of the population that does not include care homes and other establishments and may differ from official figures on vaccination rates.
This week, 94% of adults said they had either had the vaccine, were waiting to have a vaccine appointment, or would be likely to accept the vaccine if offered, an increase from 91% reported last week.
Most adults aged 70 years and over (97%) said they had received a vaccine dose
Great Britain, 17 to 21 February 2021
- Questions: "Have you received a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19)?", "Have you been offered the vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19)?" and "If a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) was offered to you, how likely or unlikely would you be to have the vaccine?”.
- Base: all adults.
- Totals may not sum to 100% because of rounding and proportions of less than 1% are not included in this chart.
Compliance with measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus remains generally high, although responses for people saying they always or often maintained social distancing are lower than last week.
Over the period 17 to 21 February, 86% of adults reported always or often maintaining social distance when meeting up with people outside their support bubble, lower than the 91% reported last week.
This does not necessarily mean that people are breaking lockdown rules as there may be valid reasons why people may be unable to social distance from others, such as medical appointments or shopping.