Official data in England shows that covid infections have been on the rise among primary schoolchildren. This could indicate that there is a back-to-school effect.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 8 percent of young children between the ages of 2 and 11 were found to have Covid during the week that ended January 15, which is roughly one in 13 compared to the previous week’s 7 percentage.
The rate, based on swabs taken from 160,000 people across the country, is the highest of all other age groups, with 20 to 34-year-olds having the next highest rate (one in 17).
While the rates of this disease are declining or falling in all age groups, they continue to rise in children. A month ago, the virus was only found in five percent of children under twelve years old.
After a two week break for the Christmas holidays, children return to school on January 4.
Despite rising infection rates among nursery-aged and primary school children, Omicron found that there were fewer infections across England than expected.
According to estimates, around 2.9million people had been infected during the week of January 15. This is a decrease on the record high of 3.7 million in previous weeks.
Because it relies on random sampling from around 100,000 individuals, the ONS survey can be considered the best indicator of the UK’s outbreak.
The graph below shows how many people tested positive for Covid in England according to their age. According to ONS estimates infection rates declined in all age categories in the week ending January 15. However, one-third of two- to eleven-year-olds (eight percent) were thought to have been infected.
The ONS reported that Covid infections declined across England, except in the North East or South West. These regions were not affected by the trend. In North East England, around one in 10 people were likely to test positive in the week to January 15 – the highest estimate for any region. South West, with a rate of around 1 in 25, had the lowest rates
Data from the ONS show that this virus is most common among children between two and six years old.
On any given day, eight per cent of this group will have the virus. This compares to just three percent in the 70-year-olds who are the most infected group.
The number of cases is still rising. Seven percent are estimated to have the virus in their bodies on January 8. This compares to 9.2 percent on January 15.
Although primary school students were exempted from the need to wear masks during the pandemics, ministers lifted this week the ban on secondary school pupils wearing masks in schools.
They won’t have to use masks on corridors and other areas in schools starting January 27.
Boris Johnson claimed that Plan B restrictions have been lifted due to Omicron case drop and the success of the booster program.
Andy Byers (ahead teacher at Framwellgate Schools in County Durham) has asked students and their families to wear masks in class, as cases remain high. It is leading to absenteeism among both staff and students.
Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary, wrote to MPs that local health chiefs would have to review any plans for reintroduction of face-covering in schools. This was to ensure a ‘correct response to local epidemics.
He stated that the Omicron case spiralling meant that he had to make the tough decision of reimposing face masks in secondary schools. But, it was worth the effort to maximise face-to-face learning.
Zahawi said that the public health director will be notified of any plans to restore face-coverings to “tightly focused geographical areas” to aid in data and evidence collection.
Meanwhile, last week marked the first time that the ONS has recorded a fall in infections since Omicron first took off in late November and the downward trend now matches the Government’s daily statistics.
The ONS reported that one-in-19 children aged 12-16 years were infected in any week up to January 15th. Only 5.7% had Covid among 17-24 year olds after this figure reached almost 10% at Omicron peak.
6.1% of the 25- to 34-year olds had Covid. 4.9% of those 35-49 had Covid. Meanwhile, 4.1% of 50- to 69-year-olds had Covid.
The ONS said Covid infections fell in all regions of England except the North East and South West, where the trends were uncertain.
In North East England, around one in 10 people were likely to test positive in the week to January 15 – the highest estimate for any region. South West, with a rate of around 1 in 25, had the lowest rates.
Another estimate for the UK was that one quarter of 25 Welsh people had been infected with coronavirus in last week. The outbreak has since declined. In Scotland, the rate was one per 20.
Sarah Crofts is the head of analysis outputs at the Covid Infection Survey. She said that the latest numbers show an encouraging decrease in infection rates across the UK, and for all age groups, except younger children.
“We will monitor data closely to determine if the week’s decline continues.”
Professor James Naismith is a structural biologist from the University of Oxford. He said that the Covid rates “will start to drop rapidly” across the country. Based on the trends observed in Omicron epicenter South Africa as well as in London and North West where there have been sharp drops in cases,
He warned Omicron that it was a serious illness and should be avoided by the vulnerable.
Data from the ONS shows how many people have tested positive for Covid in England and Wales. According to the ONS, infection rates decreased in all other countries, except Northern Ireland. The trend is not clear.
Professor Naismith stated that ‘omicron was as expected less severe in those who were vaccinated and people with previous infections, but it was still severe for triple-boosted.
Omicron reached the UK after South African data had clearly shown that Omicron was inherently less severe than Delta.
“The Triple Boost campaign saved many lives and reduced the NHS’s pressure. I think vaccination is the best method to prevent Covid.
This is despite the fact that daily Covid case numbers fell by just 1.6% in one week yesterday, which suggests that Omicron curves are leveling off.
UK Health Security Agency data shows there were another 107,364 positive tests across the country, down only slightly on the 109,133 last week.
Technically, it’s the 15th consecutive week of falling cases. However today’s weekly decrease is the least in that period. It brings the daily average case to approximately 92,000. This is half what was reported a week ago.
SAGE scientists yesterday warned there could be a ‘long tail’ of infections as the UK comes out of the fourth wave that will ‘still need managing’.
But plateauing hospital admission rates and the growing disconnect between infections and deaths has given the Prime Minister the confidence to lift Plan B restrictions next week.
Boris Johnson announced that he will abolish all Covid laws and mandatory isolation for Covid cases by spring. Yesterday’s official abandonment of WFH guidance, and the use of masks in schools was the first step.
Sajid Javid, Doubling Down on the Government’s Decision to Scrap the Curbs, indicated that Ministers will tolerate over 20,000 Covid deaths per year and not impose any measures.
Another 330 Covid-related deaths were reported yesterday, which is a 1.5 percent decrease compared to Thursday. The latest hospital data indicates that there were 1,905 Covid admissions in January 16th, a decline of 13 percent compared to the previous week.