Covid cases jump by 21% with highest weekly total since May

 The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England is now more than double what it was at the start of the November lockdown.

A total of 388,037 people tested positive for Covid-19 at least once in the week to January 6, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.

This is up 21% on the previous week and is the highest weekly total since Test and Trace began in May 2020.

The number of positive tests has increased over the last 5 weeks. Today’s statistics bulletin notes: ‘The number of positive cases [in the week up to January 6] was over double the number in the previous peak seen between 5 and 11 November 2020.’

In the first week of November – when a month long lockdown was announced on the 5th – there were 168,323 positive test results.

That was before the new more infectious variant began to spread widely in the UK.

The Test and Trace figures also show waiting times for test results have increased again.

Just 31.5% of people who got an in-person test in the week ending January 6 received their result within 24 hours, down from 33.0% in the previous week, and below the recent peak of 64.9% in the week to December 2.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged that by the end of June 2020, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.

Of the cases transferred to the Test and Trace system in the week to January 6, 86.6% were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts.

This figure has remained broadly consistent over the past two months

Some 12.4% of people transferred to contact tracers in the most recent week were not reached, while a further 1.0% did not provide any communication details.

The figures come as a top scientist warned the overall death toll would exceed 100,000.

Prof Neil Ferguson – whose modelling led to the original lockdown last March – said some restrictions must stay in place ‘to the autumn’.

He said that in some NHS regions there is a ‘sign of plateauing’ in cases and hospital admissions but that the number of deaths is likely to pass 100,000 and that ‘there’s nothing we can do about that now’.

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