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Infections and deaths

The percentage of people aged 50 to 69 years in England testing positive has increased

9 April 2021

The percentage of people aged 50 to 69 years in England testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) has increased to 0.24% in the week ending 3 April 2021, up from 0.16% in the previous bulletin.

There were also early signs of an increase in those in school year 12 (usually 16 and 17 years old) to age 24 years, while trends are uncertain in all other age groups.

The percentage testing positive in England increased in those aged 50 to 69 years, and there were early signs of an increase in those in school year 12 to age 24 years in the week ending 3 April 2021

Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs, daily, by age group since 21 February 2021, England

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Notes:
  1. All results are provisional and subject to revision.
  2. 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/or other institutional settings.

Data download

Overall in England, we estimate that 161,900 people had the coronavirus in the week ending 3 April 2021, equivalent to 0.30% or 1 in 340 people in the community population (those not in hospitals, care homes or institutional settings). This is likely to have remained level over the two weeks up to 3 April 2021. There are early signs of an increase in the latest week, balancing out a small decrease in the previous week.

In Wales, we estimate that the percentage testing positive has decreased over the two weeks ending 3 April 2021, with 3,800 people (0.12% or 1 in 800 people) testing positive in the latest week.

In Northern Ireland, an estimated 6,100 people (0.33% or 1 in 300 people) had the coronavirus, which is likely to have remained level in recent weeks, but there was high uncertainty.

In Scotland, we estimate that 13,000 people (0.25% or 1 in 410 people) had COVID-19, a continued decrease in the latest week.

Analysis | Data

Fewest number of COVID-19 deaths since mid-October 2020

8 April 2021

There were 719 deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales in the week ending 26 March 2021 – the fewest since the week ending 16 October 2020.

The number of deaths from all causes also decreased in the most recent week, remaining below the five-year average for the third consecutive week.

In total, there were 10,045 deaths in England and Wales in the week ending 26 March 2021, of which 7.2% involved COVID-19.

The number of COVID-19 deaths fell in all English regions and in Wales for the eighth week in a row

Number of deaths in Wales and regions in England, registered between 28 December 2019 and 26 March 2021

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Notes: 
  1. Based on area of usual residence. Geographical boundaries are based on the most up-to-date information available at the time of publication.
  2. Figures exclude deaths of non-residents.
  3. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  4. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  5. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the measuring the data section of the bulletin.
  6. The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Week 1 2021 was affected by the Early May, Late May, August, Christmas and New Year Bank Holidays.
  7. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  8. 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.

Data download

The total number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales has passed 135,000 (137,622 registrations up to 26 March 2021). Around 73% 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 certificate. Weekly figures are available by local authority and health board .

Analysis | Data

Around half of people testing positive for the coronavirus reported no symptoms in March 2021

8 April 2021

In March 2021, an estimated 53% of people with the coronavirus (COVID-19), identified by a strong positive test, reported no symptoms.

Confidence intervals in March are wider than in previous months because of incomplete data, so the true figure of people reporting no symptoms is somewhere between 47% and 58% of those with a strong positive test.

An estimated 47% reported having symptoms, but the confidence intervals were also wide, meaning the true figure is somewhere between 42% and 53%.

These figures are taken from people in the community – those not in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

Fatigue, headache and cough were the most commonly reported symptoms between 1 December 2020 and 22 March 2021.

Nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea were less commonly reported symptoms.

The strength of a test is determined by how quickly the virus is detected, measured by a cycle threshold (Ct) value. The lower the Ct value, the higher the viral load and the stronger the positive test. The analysis includes positive tests with a Ct value of less than 30 as strong.

47% of people testing positive in the UK reported symptoms in March 2021

Percentage of people who reported having symptoms when testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), including only those who have strong positive tests (Ct less than 30), from 1 December 2020 to 22 March 2021, UK

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Notes:
  1. All results are provisional and subject to revision.
  2. 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/or other institutional settings.
  3. The confidence intervals are wider in March because of an incomplete month of data.

Data download

Analysis

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Economy, business and jobs

The economy decreased by 2.9% in January 2021

12 March 2021

Real gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have fallen by 2.9% in January 2021 following growth of 1.2% in December 2020.

Restrictions were in place to a varying degree across all four nations of the UK during January. Restriction announcements for each nation are available:

The services sector acted as the main drag on growth in January 2021, decreasing by 3.5%.

The largest contributor to the fall was wholesale and retail trade, followed by education services, accommodation and food service activities, and other service activities such as hairdressing, because of the reintroduction of restrictions across the UK. Health had a large contribution to growth in January 2021, increasing by 8.7%, mainly through coronavirus testing and tracing and vaccine schemes across the UK.

The production sector fell by 1.5% in January 2021 following eight months of consecutive growth. The manufacturing sub-sector contracted by 2.3%, the first decline since April 2020, largely driven by a fall in exports.

The construction sector saw positive growth of 0.9% in January 2021, after a decline of 2.9% in December 2020.

Analysis | Data

Retail footfall in the UK and traffic in London increased as coronavirus restrictions ease

8 April 2021

Average daily traffic camera activity in London increased in the week ending 4 April 2021 compared with average levels seen in the two weeks immediately prior to the March 2020 lockdown. Motorbikes increased to 123%, pedestrians and cyclists increased to 109%, and cars increased to 103%. This rise coincides with the easing of restrictions in England.

In the week to 3 April 2021, UK retail footfall increased by 9% compared with the previous week to 51% of the level seen in the same week in 2019, with footfall at retail parks fairing much stronger than at shopping centres and high streets.

Meanwhile, in the week to 1 April 2021, the aggregate Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS)-based indicator of debit and credit card purchases increased by 10 percentage points compared with the previous week to 88% of its February 2020 average. However, this increase was partly driven by the usual increase in “staples” (essential goods such as food and utilities) seen around the turn of the month, as well as a continued increase since early 2021 in the value of CHAPS payments received by large UK corporates from their credit and debit card processors.

Analysis | Data

Also published recently

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People and social impacts

How different people respond to coronavirus guidance

12 April 2021

Fear of the virus and passing it on to others, especially vulnerable people, were among the factors that motivated compliance with the coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines.

The impact on mental health was one of the reasons some people had for “breaking the rules”, especially in relation to social mixing.

A study by IFF Research, commissioned by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), interviewed 180 people, 90 of whom kept diaries, from a range of adult social groups about their experiences following the guidance.

The groups included young people, students, ethnic minority groups, high-income workers, low-income workers, and parents with dependent children.

There was widespread willingness among participants to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by following official guidance.

A few did not trust the seriousness of the virus or questioned the effectiveness of the COVID-19 guidance.

Some participants, particularly from the young people group, mentioned a concern that the lack of socialising had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.

Analysis

A high proportion of disabled people continue to worry about the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic

9 April 2021

More disabled people aged 16 years and over in Great Britain are worrying about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, compared with non-disabled people.

In the latest data (3 to 28 February 2021) around 8 in 10 disabled people (78%) said they were worried about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their life, compared with around 7 in 10 non-disabled people (69%).

A higher proportion of disabled people (27%) said they were “very worried” compared with non-disabled people (16%).

This difference between disabled and non-disabled people is similar to when we have examined this at other stages in the pandemic, although the proportion of disabled people (83%) reporting worry has decreased compared with in September 2020.

In February 2021 the proportion of disabled people reporting they are worried about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic remained higher than among non-disabled people

Proportion of people reporting being "very worried" or "somewhat worried" about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on their life, Great Britain, April, May, July, September 2020 and February 2021

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Notes:
  1. Question: "How worried or unworried are you about the effect that Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on your life right now?".
  2. Base population for percentage: disabled or non-disabled popultion.
  3. Collection periods: 3 to 13 April 2020, 14 to 24 May 2020, 8 to 19 July 2020, 24 September to 4 October 2020, 3 to 28 February 2021.
  4. Lower and upper 95% confidence levels form a confidence interval, which is a measure of the statistical precision of an estimate and shows the range of uncertainty around the calculated estimate. As a general rule, if the confidence interval around one estimate overlaps with another, we cannot say with certainty that there is more than a chance difference between the two estimates.

Data download

Disabled people continued to experience the effects of the coronavirus in different ways to non-disabled people.

Disabled people said more frequently than non-disabled people that the coronavirus was affecting their well-being because, for example, it made their mental health worse (46% for disabled people and 29% for non-disabled people), they were feeling stressed and anxious (67% and 54%) or they were feeling lonely (49% and 37%).

Disabled people tended to be less optimistic than non-disabled people about life returning to normal in the short term: around a fifth (20%) of disabled people compared with over a quarter (27%) of non-disabled people thought that life will return to normal in less than six months.

Positive sentiment towards the coronavirus vaccine was high (94%) among both disabled and non-disabled people.

Analysis | Data

Loneliness rates highest in areas with younger populations and higher unemployment

7 April 2021

Areas with a higher concentration of younger people and areas with higher rates of unemployment have tended to have higher rates of loneliness in recent months.

We looked at results from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey from October 2020 to February 2021 to find characteristics of areas that reported high rates of loneliness.

Places with a lower average (median) age generally experienced higher rates of loneliness during the study period, that is, a greater percentage of people in that area said they “often or always” felt lonely. Higher rates of loneliness reported by young people are particularly associated with urban areas outside London.

Interactive map: Loneliness rates by local authority

Percentage reporting “often or always” feeling lonely, Great Britain, 14 October 2020 to 22 February 2021

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Notes:
  1. The map represents the percentages of adults aged 16 years and over across Great Britain who were asked how often they felt lonely and responded with "often or always". Other response options included: "some of the time", "occasionally", "hardly ever" and "never".
  2. Local authorities with an underlying sample size of less than five have been suppressed, as indicated by the grey colouring.
  3. Because of small sample sizes and large confidence intervals, local authorities should not be ranked against each other.

Data download

Living in a single-person household, difficulties with relationships caused by the pandemic, and not having anyone to talk to have also contributed to experiences of loneliness.

From October 2020 to February 2021, of those who said their well-being had been affected in the last seven days by the pandemic, 38.6% (about 10.5 million people) said it was because they were lonely. Accounting for groups we know are particularly affected by loneliness more generally, we found young people and single people have also been most affected by this seven-day measure or “lockdown loneliness”.

During the pandemic, how densely populated an area is has become a more important factor for anxiety in local authorities in England, with higher population density linked to higher rates of anxiety. Further research is needed but this may be because of concerns around social distancing and the perceived risk of infection.

Analysis | Data

More than a third of adults met up with someone outside their household, childcare or support bubble

6 April 2021

More than one in three (36%) adults in Great Britain had met someone not in their household, childcare or support bubble in the seven days to 28 March 2021.

Around 1 in 25 (4%) adults reported meeting up indoors with a further 5% meeting up both indoors and outdoors.

Just over a quarter (26%) of adults said they had met someone outdoors who was not in their household, support or childcare bubble during this period.

The findings come following changes to the way we ask adults to report meetings as part of the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

The following chart shows the proportion of adults who:

  • met up indoors (either exclusively or in combination with meeting up outdoors)
  • met up outdoors (either exclusively or in combination with meeting up indoors)

It should be noted that changes to the questions in the latest period may have contributed to the changes in proportions seen between 24 and 28 March 2021 and should be treated with caution.

Just over 3 in 10 (31%) adults met up outdoors with someone outside their household, childcare or support bubble in the last seven days

Adults in Great Britain, January to March 2021

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Notes:
  1. Question: "Excluding work or education, in the past seven days, have you met up with anyone from outside your household, support, or childcare bubble?"
  2. Base: all adults.
  3. Questions asked about meeting indoors and outdoors changed in the latest period so interpretation of this time series should be made with caution. For more information please see the datasets associated with this bulletin.

Data download

People are also feeling less optimistic about the future; 23% of adults think that life will return to normality within the next six months (down from 29% last week), and 28% of people believe it will take longer than a year (up from 23% last week).

Analysis | Data

Student well-being has improved slightly compared with earlier in 2021

7 April 2021

English students’ average ratings of life satisfaction have improved since a lockdown lowest rating of 4.6 out of 10 in January 2021.

The recent rating of 5.2 for 12 to 22 March 2021, remains significantly lower than the average ratings of the adult population in Great Britain (6.8) over a similar period.

The Experimental Statistics from the Student COVID-19 Insights Survey (SCIS) show that fewer students reported a worsening in their mental health and well-being, dropping from 67% in February 2021 to 63% in March 2021.

There was little change in the proportion of students to report feeling lonely often or always (29%) between February and March 2021; this was a sizeable difference to the adult population in Great Britain during the same period, 7% of which reported the same feelings.

The data also revealed that 76% of students were living at the same address as they were at the start of the autumn term 2020. Of those who had moved, 49% were still planning on returning to their original address before the end of the academic year.

Almost a quarter (24%) of students said that they expected to stay with people who are not part of their current household for a period of two weeks or more, over the next two months.

Please note that care needs to be taken when interpreting these Experimental Statistics as they come from a relatively small sample size and low response rate. Historical estimates have been revised to account for differences in the age structure between the sample and the student population.

Analysis | Data

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User requests

We continue to respond to data requests from the public, media and government during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Responses are published in our list of user requested data.

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