Coronavirus infections have decreased across England as a whole, but increased in London, according to new data that raises questions about the efficacy of the lockdown in the capital.
Between 29 November and 5 December there were 481,500 people in England with coronavirus on average, equating to one in every 115 people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
There are fears of spiralling infections in London, which was placed in Tier 2 when England came out of its second national lockdown on 2 December.
As COVID-19 cases in the capital rise, residents have been warned they could be moved into Tier 3 before Christmas.
Following a meeting of London MPs with health minister Helen Whately on Thursday, one MP told Sky News: “It was a very clear preparation for Tier 3. I think the decision is pretty much made.”
Friday’s ONS report said: “Over the most recent week, the percentage of people testing positive has increased in London and there are early signs that rates may have increased in the East of England; the percentage of people testing positive has decreased in all other regions.”
Across the whole of England infections fell from 521,300 people, or one in 105, who were estimated to have COVID-19 in the period November 22 to 28. The numbers do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
The percentage of people testing positive has decreased in older teenagers and young adults, those aged 25 to 34 years and those ages 50 to 69 years. Rates continue to be highest among secondary school-age children.
Mass coronavirus testing of secondary school children will begin in the worst-affected boroughs in London, and the bordering areas of Kent and Essex, Matt Hancock announced this week.
East London and the surrounding areas have seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, with some communities facing more than 300 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days.
The health secretary said that the government will work with schools and local authorities to encourage children and families to be tested at their new mobile units over the coming days.
Anthony Costello said 18,000 people had died in the outbreak since then and warned “thousands more will die” in the next two months.
The report confirmed that the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Wales has increased while in Scotland figures are stable, and in Northern Ireland numbers are decreasing.
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