Covid infection rates have increased in the UK for the first time since the middle of July, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). One in 70 tested positive, with the largest rise in secondary school children in the week to 14 September. Infections increased in England and Wales while rates fell in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
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The ONS says it will closely monitor the data to see the impact of schools returning over the coming weeks. Infections rose by 5% in the most recent period covered by the survey, although the total number testing positive is still close to its lowest level since early March.
According to the ONS, the rise in cases is \”likely\” to be driven by an increase in infections among secondary school children following their return to classrooms.
There was also a small increase in positive tests among adults aged 30-44. In England, infection rates increased from 0.46% to 0.51%, while in Wales, they rose from 0.42% to 0.48%. Rates fell slightly in Scotland, from 0.36% to 0.35%, and Northern Ireland, from 0.27% to 0.25%.
In addition, the ONS says there is evidence that the rise in cases in England is \”particularly driven by increases in the North West and London\”.
The increase comes as schools in England have reopened for the start of the new academic year. Infection rates among secondary school children had been falling before the return to classrooms.
However, experts have warned that it is too early to tell if there has been a significant impact from schools reopening. The ONS says its data \”will be closely monitored over the coming weeks to see what effect this has on infection rates\”.
The findings come as ministers consider whether to tighten restrictions on social gatherings amid concerns about rising case numbers.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister\’s official spokesman said the government would \”keep under review\” the limit of six people meeting indoors or outdoors. The spokesperson said the rise in cases was \”not unexpected\” and that the government was \”constantly monitoring the data\”.
They added: \”We have always been clear that as schools returned, we would see an increase in cases.\” The latest figures come as England prepares to enter a period of nationwide restrictions from Thursday.
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