CORONAVIRUS cases are falling across most of the UK, new figures show – as England’s tiers are revealed.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that “in recent weeks, the positivity rate in England has shown signs of levelling”.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Around one in 85 people were infected with coronavirus in the week November 15 to 21, according to the ONS.
Its Covid-19 Infection Survey is based on more than 712,000 tests gathered from households across the UK over the last six weeks, regardless of whether people have symptoms.
It found an estimated 633,000 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between November 15 and 21, a slight decrease from 664,700 the week before.
The ONS reported rates have increased in the East Midlands but have continued to decrease in the North West during lockdown.
Infection rates in the West Midlands, East of England, London, South East and South West now also appear to be decreasing, with the highest rates seen in Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and the North East.
When it comes to age groups, only secondary school age children are seeing a rise in infection rates, while they have dropped in adults aged 35 and over.
Among very young children rates have levelled off, as they have for young adults.
Rates of infection have decreased in Northern Ireland and Wales in recent weeks, the ONS said, but appear to have increased in Scotland in the most recent week.
Ruth Studley, head of analysis for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: “At a national level in England, the overall number of infections appears to be levelling off at around one in 85 people who would test positive in the community.”
How are tiers determined?
Decisions on which area goes into which tier are primarily based on 5 key epidemiological indicators:
- case detection rates in all age groups
- case detection rates in the over-60s
- the rate at which cases are rising or falling
- positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
- pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy
The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
The ONS report was published early today ahead of the Government’s tier system announcement.
The Department of Health said decisions on tier levels would be based on a number of factors, including case detection rates in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s.
How quickly case rates are rising or falling will also be taken into account, as will local pressure on the NHS, including current and projected capacity.
The ONS usually publishes its weekly Infection Survey data every Friday, but the report has been shared a day early this week.
Each area has been placed into one of three tiers for when lockdown ends on December 2.
But the system has been toughened from the previous regime, meaning more authorities will move into the higher tiers.
Almost all parts of England will be banned from households mixing indoors and face restrictions on hospitality after December 2.
Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been placed in the lowest Tier 1 set of restrictions, with people in all other parts of England set to face more serious limits to their freedom.
Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3, but London will be in Tier 2.
Liverpool, which had been in Tier 3 before the lockdown, will move to Tier 2 in recognition of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.
What tier am I in?
Tier 1: Medium alert
Isle of Wight
Isles of Scilly
Tier 2: High alert
Liverpool City Region
Warrington and Cheshire
Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes
London – all 32 boroughs plus the City of London
Brighton and Hove
Windsor and Maidenhead
Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
Bath and North East Somerset
Wiltshire and Swindon
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “these are not easy decisions, but they have been made according to the best clinical advice”.
He told MPs: “Thanks to the shared sacrifice of everyone in recent weeks, in following the national restrictions, we have been able to start to bring the virus back under control and slow its growth, easing some of the pressure on the NHS.
“We will do this by returning to a regional tiered approach, saving the toughest measures for the parts of the country where prevalence remains too high.”
The chaotic handling of the announcement saw an online postcode checker allowing people to check which tier their area would be in launch before the official details were released. However it soon crashed.
In Tier 1, the rule of six applies indoors and outdoors, people are urged to work from home if they can and pubs are limited to table service.
The majority of England will be in Tier 2, where the restrictions mean a ban on households mixing indoors and pubs, and restaurants only able to sell alcohol with a “substantial meal”.
Tier 3 measures mean a ban on households mixing, except in limited circumstances such as parks.
Bars and restaurants will be limited to takeaway or delivery services and people will be advised to avoid travelling outside their area.
Areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas, however, with the first review of the allocations due to take place by December 16.