Scotland had the lowest rate of Covid infections across the four nations in the UK last week — despite rising levels of cases not seen since September’s peak.
The latest estimate for the week of December 13-19 predicates around one in 65 people or 79,200 had Covid-19, according to new analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It’s up from the previous week’s estimate of one in 80, but still below September’s peak of one in 45.
The middle of the week on December 15 saw the biggest rise seen in weeks – recording 6,841 positive cases in a day.
The impact of Omicron is being felt over the whole of the UK, despite findings that the variant is milder, it is also more infectious than previous strains.
Covid infection levels reached a new record high with an estimated total of 1.7 million people in the UK having had Covid-19 in the week ending December 19.
The new interim data, published on Friday, shows the highest levels of infection are in England with around one in 35 people in private households predicted to have Covid-19 in the week to December 19 – up from one in 45 in the seven days to December 16.
This is the highest estimate for England since the ONS began estimating community infection levels for England in May 2020, and is equivalent to around 1.5 million people.
The ONS said that Covid infections compatible with the Omicron variant have increased in all regions in England with “substantial regional variation”, with the highest rates in London and the lowest in the North East.
In Wales, around one in 45 people is estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to December 19, slightly below the record of one in 40 in October.
In Northern Ireland, the latest estimate is one in 40, equalling the record from mid-August.
Esther Sutherland, Senior Statistician for the COVID-19 Infection Survey said: “These latest figures show a continued rise in infections across most of the UK, and among all age groups.
“The increase is most pronounced in London where the most recent data suggest 1 in 20 people had COVID-19 in the latest week. The figures also suggest the rapid spread of the Omicron variant is a significant factor in recent trends.“
The latest figures come after UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said data suggesting Omicron may be less likely to lead to serious illness than the Delta variant of coronavirus offers a “glimmer of Christmas hope”.
The UKHSA estimates that someone with Omicron is between 31% and 45% less likely to attend A&E and 50% to 70% less likely to be admitted to hospital than an individual with the Delta variant.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also used her Christmas message to urge people to get vaccinated.
“The vaccination programme has been a source of brightness during a really difficult month,” she said.
“I know that, even three or four weeks ago, all of us were looking forward to a fairly normal Christmas. I am so sorry that this year’s won’t be quite like that.
“But for many of us, because of vaccination, it will still be more much normal than last year.
“Getting vaccinated is the most important way, although certainly not the only way, in which we can all protect each other, as we get through this next phase of the pandemic. Vaccination is above all else a demonstration of compassion for, and solidarity with, each other.
“By continuing to show compassion and solidarity, I hope we can all enjoy the best and the safest festive period possible.”
🎄📺 The Christmas message from the First Minister pic.twitter.com/yYvNOrrR9J
— Radio Clyde News (@RadioClydeNews) December 24, 2021