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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

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Notes:
  1. 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.
  2. Official reported estimates are plotted at a reference point believed to be most representative of the given week.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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Analysis | Data

Around one in four people in England would have tested positive for antibodies

2 March 2021

An estimated 23.3% of the population in England would have tested positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the 28 days up to 11 February 2021.

This suggests around 10.5 million people aged 16 years and over in England would have tested positive for antibodies on a blood sample, suggesting they had either had the infection in the past, had received a vaccination, or both.

The highest percentages of people testing positive for antibodies were those aged 80 years and over in England, in the 28 days up to 11 February 2021.

In Wales, an estimated 16.4% of the population would have tested positive for antibodies in the 28 days up to 11 February 2021 and in Northern Ireland, the estimate is 15.9%. In Scotland, an estimated 13.1% of the population would have tested positive for antibodies.

In the data used to produce estimates for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the number of people sampled who tested positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 is low compared with England. This means there is a higher degree of uncertainty in estimates for these nations, as indicated by larger confidence intervals.

In the 28 days up to 11 February 2021, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies was highest in England and lowest in Scotland

Estimated percentage of people testing positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 from a blood sample, by 28-day periods, 8 May 2020 to 11 February 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. Survey fieldwork for the pilot study began in England on 26 April 2020. In Wales, fieldwork began on 29 June, in Northern Ireland fieldwork began on 26 July and in Scotland fieldwork began on 21 September.

Analysis | Data

Fewest number of COVID-19 deaths in six weeks

2 March 2021

There were 4,079 deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales in the week ending 19 February 2021 – 1,612 fewer than the previous week.

Deaths from all causes also decreased in the most recent week but remained above average for this time of year. The proportion of total deaths involving COVID-19 also fell. In total, there were 13,809 deaths in England and Wales in the week ending 19 February, of which 29.5% involved COVID-19.  

The number of deaths was above the five-year average in Week 7, but within the range of 2015 to 2019 deaths for Wales 

Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 19 February 2021 

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Notes: 
  1. Figures exclude deaths of non-residents. 

  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred. 

  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional. 

  4. 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 impact of the early May Bank Holiday was analysed in our Week 20 bulletin. 

  5. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths. 

  6. 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. 

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The total number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales is approaching 130,000 (129,113 registrations up to 19 February 2021). The majority 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

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

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Notes
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Figures are for deaths registered rather than deaths occurring in each month.
  4. Figures exclude death of non-residents; geographical boundaries are based on the most up-to-date information available at the time of publication.
  5. Deaths "due to COVID-19" include only deaths where COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death.
  6. 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.
  7. Figures are provisional.

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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.

Analysis | Data

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

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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 other institutional settings.
  3. 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.

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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.

Analysis | Data

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%).

Analysis | Data

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

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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.

Analysis | Data

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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

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Notes:
  1. 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?”.
  2. Base: all adults.
  3. Totals may not sum to 100% because of rounding and proportions of less than 1% are not included in this chart.

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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.

Analysis | Data

Schools report “some” or “major” challenges in implementing most measures to curb coronavirus spread

1 March 2021

Most schools report encountering either “some” or “major” challenges in implementing measures to control the spread of coronavirus during the Autumn term 2020.

School headteachers and their representatives were surveyed about which infection control measures had been put in place, and what challenges this presented.

Almost all primary schools surveyed reported implementing all 10 infection control measures recommended by the Department for Education, while most secondary schools (91%) reported implementing at least 12 of 15 recommended measures. The least commonly implemented measure was maintaining distance between pupils within bubbles.

While all schools had a “bubble” system in place during the Autumn term, bubbles in primary schools were most commonly the same size as usual class sizes, while most secondary schools had bubbles consisting of an entire year group.

Measures to maintain distancing within bubbles, such as staff keeping two metres from students, were more likely to present “major” challenges for schools, particularly in primary schools.

Staff staying home if they or another member of their household had COVID-19 symptoms also presented major challenges in more than a quarter of schools.

Hygiene measures, such as staff regularly washing hands, were more commonly regarded as easy to implement, as was banning large gatherings such as assemblies, although primary schools were more likely to say these measures were “easy to implement” than secondary schools.

More than a third of primary schools surveyed reported major challenges maintaining two metres between staff and pupils

Challenges implementing COVID-19 measures in primary schools, Autumn 2020

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Almost half of secondary schools reported major challenges in maintain social distance between students in the same bubble

Challenges implementing COVID-19 measures in secondary schools, Autumn 2020

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Further findings from the second round of the COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey (SIS) are presented in COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey Round 2, England: December 2020

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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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