Covid infection levels hit record high across UK

Covid infection levels have hit a record high across the UK as free Covid-19 testing for millions of people in England comes to an end.

Some 4.9million people in the UK are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week ending March 26, up from 4.3million the previous week, the Office for National Statistics said.

ONS data shows one in 13 people in England would have had Covid in this week, up from one in 16 the previous week, and in Wales the figure is one in 14, up from one out of 16 the previous week. Both are records.

From Friday, people in England must turn to the high street for tests if they wish.

Kara Steel, Principal Statistician for the ONS Covid-19 Infections Survey, said: “Levels of infection remain high, with the highest levels recorded in our survey being seen in England and Wales and increases notable among older age groups.

“The rapid increase continues to be fueled by the growth of the Omicron BA.2 variant across the UK.”

Earlier, Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London, who runs the Zoe Covid tracking app, said the timing of the end of free testing “couldn’t really be worse”.

He said England was now in a situation where ‘they had to rely on the public to do the right thing and take those tests themselves when they got sick’.

He told Times Radio that ‘if we don’t have free testing, let’s have a clear policy on how you would know you’re infected, and so you can self-isolate.

“To do this, the government must admit that the symptoms of Covid have changed over the last two years and that 80% of people now have cold-like symptoms.

“And there should be a public health campaign to say right now, when your chances of getting Covid are greater than a cold… test if you can afford it – (and) even if you can’t – assume you have Covid.”

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Edward L. Robinett