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COVID-19: More than a million test positive in UK last week in new record

A record number of people in the UK have had COVID in a single week, new figures have shown.

The Office for National Statistics said around 1.4 million people in the UK had COVID infections in the week ending December 16, which was the highest number since comparable figures began in autumn 2020.

Around one in 45 people in private households in England also had COVID in the week to December 16, which was up from one in 60 the previous week.

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In Wales, around one in 55 people is estimated to have had COVID in the week to December 16, although this was unchanged from the previous week and below the recent record high of one in 40.

Over in Northern Ireland, the latest estimate is one in 50 people, also unchanged from the previous week and slightly below the record high of one in 40 in mid-August.

And for Scotland, the latest estimate is one in 70, up from one in 80 the previous week and below September’s peak of one in 45.

It comes as Health Secretary Sajid Javid assured there would be no post-Christmas measures for England set to be announced this week, despite the rising cases.

He said: “We’re clear that there’s no need for any further restrictions of any type before Christmas but of course we will keep the situation under review.”

The UK also recorded 106,122 cases yesterday – around 13,000 more than the previous high of 93,045 on 17 December.

Meanwhile, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus in the latest week is estimated to have increased in all regions of England except the North East, South West and West Midlands, where the trend is uncertain, the ONS added.

In London, around one in 30 people was likely to test positive in the week to December 16 – the highest proportion for any region, while Yorkshire and the Humber had the lowest proportion, at around one in 65.

The survey was carried out through testing people living in private households by University of Oxford, University of Manchester, UK Health Security Agency and Wellcome Trust.

Their key statistics include the number of new infections identified during a specified time period and the proportion of the population that tested positive in the community at any given point in time, which means the data is uncertain as it is modelled on estimates.

The relatively small number of tests in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland in the samples mean results should be interpreted with caution.

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