CORONAVIRUS cases are falling across most of the UK, new figures show – as England's tiers are revealed.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that "in recent weeks, the positivity rate in England has shown signs of levelling".
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Around one in 85 people were infected with coronavirus in the week November 15 to 21, according to the ONS.
Its Covid-19 Infection Survey is based on more than 712,000 tests gathered from households across the UK over the last six weeks, regardless of whether people have symptoms.
It found an estimated 633,000 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between November 15 and 21, a slight decrease from 664,700 the week before.
The ONS reported rates have increased in the East Midlands but have continued to decrease in the North West during lockdown.
Infection rates in the West Midlands, East of England, London, South East and South West now also appear to be decreasing, with the highest rates seen in Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and the North East.
When it comes to age groups, only secondary school age children are seeing a rise in infection rates, while they have dropped in adults aged 35 and over.
Among very young children rates have levelled off, as they have for young adults.
Rates of infection have decreased in Northern Ireland and Wales in recent weeks, the ONS said, but appear to have increased in Scotland in the most recent week.
Ruth Studley, head of analysis for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: "At a national level in England, the overall number of infections appears to be levelling off at around one in 85 people who would test positive in the community."
How are tiers determined?
Decisions on which area goes into which tier are primarily based on 5 key epidemiological indicators:
- case detection rates in all age groups
- case detection rates in the over-60s
- the rate at which cases are rising or falling
- positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
- pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy
The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
The ONS report was published early today ahead of the Government's tier system announcement.
The Department of Health said decisions on tier levels would be based on a number of factors, including case detection rates in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s.
How quickly case rates are rising or falling will also be taken into account, as will local pressure on the NHS, including current and projected capacity.
The ONS usually publishes its weekly Infection Survey data every Friday, but the report has been shared a day early this week.
Each area will be placed into one of three tiers when lockdown ends on December 2 – but the system has been toughened from the previous regime, meaning more authorities will move into the higher tiers.
Areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas, however, with the first review of the allocations due to take place by December 16.
On Wednesday night reports suggested there would be few areas in England placed in Tier 1, with The Times reporting parts of eastern England and remote areas in Cornwall and Cumbria are expected to be allocated the lightest measures.
Meanwhile London was expected to go in Tier 2 along with the majority of the country.
Mr Hancock said: "Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice made by people up and down the country, we are able to move out of national lockdown and into more targeted local, tiered restrictions.
"I know for those of you faced with Tier 3 restrictions this will be a particularly difficult time but I want to reassure you that we'll be supporting your areas with mass community testing and extra funding.
"By following the rules together we can get out of these tough measures."
Areas placed in Tier 3 will be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme, making use of rapid lateral flow tests which give results within an hour.
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