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This page was last updated at 09:30 on 24 February 2021.
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Infections and deaths
The percentage of people testing positive in every UK nation has decreased
19 February 2021
An estimated 1 in 115 people tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) within the community population in England during the week ending 12 February 2021, equating to 481,300 people, or 0.88% of the population.
This is lower than the week ending 6 February 2021, when 695,400 people 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 decreased in every nation. In Wales an estimated 24,600 people (0.81% of the community population or 1 in 125 people) were estimated to have COVID-19 in the week ending 12 February 2021, down from 35,300 people in the week ending 6 February 2021.
In Northern Ireland, an estimated 17,800 people (0.97% of the community population or around 105 people) had COVID-19 in the week ending 12 February 2021, down from 24,400 people in the week ending 6 February 2021.
In Scotland, we estimate that 29,200 people (0.55% of the community population or 1 in 180 people) had COVID-19 in the week ending 12 February 2021, down from 35,400 people in the week ending 6 February 2021.
New UK variant
In England in the week ending 12 February 2021, the percentage of people testing positive that were compatible with the new UK variant continued to decrease.
In the same week in Wales, there are early signs the percentage of people testing positive compatible with the new UK variant is no longer decreasing and the percentage testing positive not compatible with the new UK variant and where the virus level was too low for the variant to be identifiable has decreased.
In Northern Ireland the percentage of people testing positive with all variants of the virus decreased in the week ending 12 February 2021.
In Scotland, both the percentage of people testing positive that were not compatible with the new UK variant or where the virus level was too low for the variant to be identifiable have decreased in the week ending 12 February 2021. The percentage of people in Scotland testing positive compatible with the new UK variant has likely remained level.
The South African variant would fall into the "not compatible with the new UK variant" category, as cases compatible with the South African variant would test positive on all three genes.
In the week ending 12 February 2021, the percentage testing positive in all three variant categories decreased or levelled off in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland
Modelled percentage of cases compatible with the new UK variant, not compatible with the new UK variant, and where the virus was too low for the variant to be identifiable based on nose and throat swabs, daily, by country since 2 January 2021, UK
- 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/or other institutional settings.
- Data should be treated with caution. There are small numbers of positives detected in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland leading to considerable uncertainty surrounding these estimates. There are further uncertainties given that not all cases that are positive on the ORF1ab- and N-genes will be the new UK variant.
- New UK variant compatible positives are defined as those that are positive on the N-gene and ORF1ab-gene, but not the S-gene. Positives that are not compatible with the new UK variant are defined as those that are positive on the S-gene, N-gene and ORF1ab-gene. Positives where the virus is too low for the variant to be identifiable are defined as those that are positive with all other gene patterns. These definitions are regardless of cycle threshold (Ct) value.
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.
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.
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.
Proportion of adults working exclusively from home is the highest it's been since June 2020
18 February 2021
In the week ending 14 February 2021, the proportion of working adults in Great Britain who worked exclusively from home remained broadly unchanged from the previous week at 37%, the highest proportion since June 2020.
The proportion of working adults who neither travelled to work nor worked from home remained similar to the previous week at 18%.
The percentage who travelled to work either exclusively or in combination with working from home was 44%, down from 47% the week before, according to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN).
On Monday 15 February 2021, the volume of all motor vehicle traffic saw a weekly increase of 8 percentage points to 68% of the level seen in the first week of February 2020, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).
Comparisons on last week’s figures are likely to be influenced by the impact of snowfall from Storm Darcy. The overall volume of road traffic continues to remain below pre-Christmas levels.
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
Homeschooling is having a more negative impact on well-being this lockdown than last spring
19 February 2021
Half of parents homeschooling during the early 2021 lockdown feel it is having a negative impact on their well-being, responses to the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey indicate.
Of homeschooling parents, almost two-thirds (63%) said it was having a negative effect on their children’s well-being, compared with 43% during April 2020.
Strain on relationships as a result of homeschooling was an issue reported by over half of parents (53%), up from 36% in April 2020.
Two-thirds of those aged 16 to 18 years in full-time education were concerned that continuing education at home would have a negative impact on their future life plans.
Homeschooling hours per week were higher in January 2021 than April 2020, with greater use of real-time interactive online learning provided by schools.
However, a higher proportion of homeschooling parents (49%) reported that they struggled to find time to help with homeschooling, compared with 33% in May 2020.
A lack of motivation was the main response parents gave for their children having difficulty studying at home, with the same main reason given by young people aged 16 to 18 years.
Women were also more likely than men to take on homeschooling. Of parents with a school-aged child, 67% of women personally homeschooled, compared with 52% of men.
Of homeschooling parents in employment, 47% said it had a negative impact on their work, compared with 30% in April 2020. Self-reported vaccination figures this week indicated just over a quarter of adults in Great Britain (26%) had received at least one dose of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
Among those aged 70 years and above, 95% of those surveyed said they had received a vaccine dose, up from 78% last week.
Vaccination figures from the survey may be different to the official number of vaccines given.