England's COVID prevalence rises to new highest level since January, ONS says

LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England increased to around 1 in 55 people in the week ending Oct 16, Britain's Office for National Statistics said on Friday, once again at its highest level since January.

The ONS said that prevalence of infections had risen for its fourth straight week, having been at 1 in 60 people in the previous week.

On Wednesday, Britain's health minister Sajid Javid resisted calls from doctors for a return of restrictions to halt a rising wave of COVID-19 infections, but gave a stark warning they would be brought back if people did not take up vaccination offers. read more

The ONS estimate prevalence is at its highest since the week ending Jan. 23, shortly after England entered its third national lockdown, although the rollout of vaccinations has greatly reduced the number of deaths for the level of cases now.

Johnson has said that the widespread deployment of vaccines means that the link between cases and deaths has been disrupted. He has said that the government will rely on vaccines rather than lockdowns to navigate a difficult winter.

Prevalence was highest again in secondary school-aged children, with 7.8% in the cohort estimated to be infected.

That was up from estimated prevalence of 7.1% for the previous week, a figure which on Friday was revised down from 8.1% due to additional test results received since. read more

"The current trend of increasing positivity is unchanged by this revision," the ONS said.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by James Davey

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