Covid Scotland: Infections continue steady decline

The number of Scots estimated to have been positive for Covid-19 has continued to fall in recent weeks. 

Around one in 55 people in private households north of the border were estimated to have the virus in the week to August 23, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

This is equivalent to 1.82% of the population, or 96,000 people having the virus. 

It is a significant week-on-week drop after last Friday’s figures showed one in 40 had the virus. 

Cases across England and Wales have also continued a downward trend since a peak earlier this year caused by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, however, the trend in Northern Ireland remains uncertain. 

Northern Ireland is the only one of the four UK nations where infection levels are estimated to have risen in the latest survey, with 35,800 people likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to August 23, the equivalent of around one in 50.

This is up from 26,400, or one in 70, in the week to August 16.

The latest estimate for people testing positive in England is 893,300, or one in 60, down from 1.2 million, or one in 45.

This is the first time the figure for England has dropped below one million since the week ending June 2.

In Wales, infections stood at 47,300 in the latest week, or one in 65 people, compared with 65,500, or one in 45, in the previous survey.

The estimates are based on randomised testing carried out for the  Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS). 

Kara Steel, the senior statistician on the survey, said: “Today’s data shows infection levels continue to decrease across most of the UK, with the number of people with Covid-19 in England now estimated to be under one million for the first time since early June.

“Though there is an uncertain trend in Northern Ireland, it is too early to say if this marks the end of the recent decrease.

“We will monitor the data closely to understand the impact of schools returning across the UK.”

Hospital Covid-19 cases have also continued to fall, but experts have warned the prevalence of the virus is set to grow in the autumn and winter.

Hospital numbers during the latest wave also peaked at a lower level than earlier in the year.

The number of patients in the UK testing positive for the virus reached 17,310 on July 15, compared with a peak of 20,559 on April 6 during the BA.2 wave.

The latest available data for UK patients shows the number with coronavirus stood at 7,665 on August 25, down 16% week-on-week.

Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, consultant epidemiologist for immunisation and countermeasures at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “The latest Covid-19 indicators provide more positive news, with continued low levels of case rates and hospitalisations and a sustained downward trend.

“The autumn booster will provide the best protection against Covid-19 this winter and we urge all those eligible – people aged 50 and over and those with underlying health conditions – to come forward when called for their jab.

“The latest evidence shows effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines against hospitalisation with the BA.4 and BA.5 variant is similar to the protection given for BA.2, and getting a booster dose six or more months after your first two jabs increases protection against hospitalisation by around 60%.”

Booster Covid vaccines will begin to be rolled out in Scotland from next week for the most vulnerable groups. 

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Queen to miss Highland Games event in Scotland amid mobility issues

The Queen is to miss this year’s Braemar Gathering in Scotland amid ongoing mobility issues. 

She attends the popular Highland Games event most years during her usual summer stay at Balmoral.

It is understood the decision was taken in the interest of the 96-year-old monarch’s comfort. 

Queen Elizabeth has been suffering from mobility problems since last year, which has also prompted her to break away from tradition and receive the incoming prime minister at the Scottish estate rather than in London.

The Prince of Wales is still scheduled to attend the Highland Games event this Saturday.

More follows. 

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