The majority of people testing positive for coronavirus did not report having symptoms at the time of their test, according to new data.
It suggests a potentially large number of asymptomatic cases, where people spread Covid-19 without realising they are carrying it.
Only a third of individuals testing positive reported evidence of coronavirus symptoms at the time of their swab test, or at the either preceding or subsequent test, according to the Office for National Statistics. This fell to 22 per cent of those testing positive when accounting for those reporting symptoms at the time of the swab test.
It comes as the UK’s coronavirus death toll hit 55,398, according to a tally of official data collated by Reuters. However of the deaths registered in the week ending 26 June, 606 mentioned coronavirus, the lowest number in the last 13 weeks.
The ONS survey on infections in the community in England only included small numbers of positive coronavirus swab tests – 120 in all – making it difficult to form solid conclusions on who is likely to be infected. However it did find that people with ethnic minority backgrounds were more likely to have a positive antibody test, while white people were least likely to.
Health and social care staff appeared to be more likely to test positive for coronavirus, underlined by findings that those working outside the home showed higher rates of positive tests than those who work from home.
The ONS also said there is some evidence to suggest that infection rates are lower in one and two person households than in larger households.
Earlier today it was revealed that workers will be forced to pay income tax on coronavirus tests if their employers order them.
Documents from the Treasury show employees will face a “taxable benefit in kind” when the tests are ordered, meaning they are treated as extra workplace benefits.