The number of people infected with Covid-19 across the UK dropped ten per cent last week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS revealed that 4.4m people had the virus in the body in the week up to 9 April.
This is down from nearly 4.9m the week before.
While infection levels are falling, numbers remain high with about one in 15 people testing positive for the virus.
The study, which uses its own testing, gives the clearest indication of the virus’s spread since free testing ended in England earlier this month.
It tests thousands of people at random – whether or not they have symptoms – to estimate how much virus there is in the country.
The BA.2 form of the Omicron variant helped push up the number infected with the virus to record levels in recent weeks, and is only now starting to decline.
This has coincided with the arrival of warmer, spring weather.
Sarah Crofts, from the ONS, said: “Across most parts of the UK, infections have thankfully begun to decrease. It is too early to say if we have passed the peak of infections, and infections overall remain high.”
On a country-by-country basis, the ONS estimates a general decline across the UK.
Its findings reveal:
- One in 14 people in England had coronavirus, about 6.9% of the population – down from 7.6% last week
- One in 13 people in Wales had coronavirus, about 7.6% – the same as last week
- One in 19 people in Northern Ireland had coronavirus, about 5.2% – down from 6.2% last week
- One in 17 people in Scotland had coronavirus, about 6% – down from 7.5% last week
The overall drop will be a welcome development as the NHS is under intense pressure.
A record 6.2m people are waiting for routine NHS treatment, while A&E is also failing to reach pre-Covid levels.
Only 71 per cent of patients seen, treated and then admitted or discharged in under four hours, compared with 87 per cent in March 2019 – before the pandemic began