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Infections continued to increase in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

30 July 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continued to increase in England and have increased in Wales and Northern Ireland in the week ending 24 July 2021, but decreased in Scotland.

The estimated percentage of the community population (those not in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings) that had COVID-19 was:

  • 1.57% (1 in 65 people) in England, up from 1.36% (1 in 75 people) last week
  • 0.62% (1 in 160 people) in Wales, up from 0.47% (1 in 210 people) last week
  • 1.48% (1 in 65 people) in Northern Ireland, up from 0.59% (1 in 170 people) last week
  • 0.94% (1 in 110 people) in Scotland, down from 1.24% (1 in 80 people) last week

Across England, positivity rates increased in the most recent week for those aged two years to school Year 11 and those aged 50 years and over, while the trend is uncertain for all other age groups.

Infections have also continued to increase in most English regions in the latest week, except for the East of England and South West, where the trend is uncertain.

While our findings for England may seem to contradict recent daily test and trace figures, it’s important to understand that the ONS survey tests a large randomised sample of the population regardless of whether they have symptoms. This and other factors may lie behind the apparent discrepancies.

The percentage of people testing positive has continued to increase in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and decreased in Scotland

Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs from 27 April 2020 to 24 July 2021

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Data for percentage testing positive by nation (XLSX, 54 KB)

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Almost 1 in 10 young adults self-isolated this week

30 July 2021

Almost 1 in 10 (9%) 16- to 29-year-olds said they had self-isolated in the past seven days. Young adults were three times more likely to be self-isolating than those aged 70 years and over (3%). Overall, 6% of adults said they were self-isolating, similar to the 7% last week.

Over 9 in 10 (95%) adults said they had worn a face covering outside their home in the last seven days, the same figure as the week before. This is despite the further easing of legal restrictions in England on 19 July 2021.

Those saying they always or often maintained social distance fell slightly from 63% last week to 61%.

Most adults felt that measures such as wearing a face covering while shopping (90%) and social distancing (88%) were either very important or important. These figures are unchanged from last week.

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Most people stick to self-isolation rules after positive test

29 July 2021

The majority of people in England who are required to self-isolate after testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) report fully adhering to the rules.

Between 5 and 10 July 2021 and 7 to 12 June 2021, 79% of all those required not to leave their home or receive visitors reported adhering to these requirements throughout their self-isolation period.

This is statistically significantly lower compared with data collected between 10 and 15 May 2021, which showed 86% reported fully adhering to the requirements.

In September 2020, a new legal duty was introduced in England, requiring people to self-isolate for 10 days if they tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

In July 2021 fewer people aged 18 to 34 years adhered to the rules on self-isolation (75%), compared with those aged between 35 and 54 years (86%).

The data presented in this bulletin were collected from individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19 and had recently reached or were nearing the end of their self-isolation period.

These data were collected between 5 and 10 July 2021, during a period in which national lockdown restrictions had eased to step three of the four-step roadmap out of lockdown in England.

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Highest UK flight numbers since before first national lockdown

29 July 2021

The number of UK daily flights has reached the highest level seen since the week to 22 March 2020 (the day before the first national lockdown was implemented across the UK).

Data from EUROCONTROL on international and domestic UK flights show the seven-day average of daily flights rose by 17% in the week to 25 July 2021 from the previous week, to 2,877 daily flights.

The average number of daily flights in the latest week is 147% of the level seen in the equivalent week in 2020 (when UK travel corridors were in place). However, it is still less than half (43%) of the level seen in the equivalent week in 2019.

The data includes commercial flights carrying passengers and cargo as well as non-commercial flights such as private and military flights. Especially in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, flights might not be operating at full capacity and therefore trends in passengers and cargo will differ from trends in flights presented here.

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Viral load lower for COVID-19 reinfection

28 July 2021

Second coronavirus (COVID-19) infections have a significantly lower viral load than first infections, suggesting reinfection is less likely to cause illness.

Viral load is determined by how quickly a test can detect the virus, measured by the cycle threshold (Ct). Positive COVID-19 tests with a low Ct value (30 or less) indicate a higher viral load, while a high Ct value suggests a lower viral load.

Consistent with previous results, analysis of Ct values at first and second infection found that viral load is significantly higher for the first infection than the second, indicating that an individual may have an effective immune response to reinfection.

From the 19,470 participants who had previously recovered from a COVID-19 infection, 195 reinfections were identified. However, of the 195 reinfections, only 48 had a high viral load with Ct less than 30. These results suggest that the number of reinfections is low overall, and reinfections with a high viral load are even lower.

Of those who test positive for COVID-19 with a high viral load, 61% reported symptoms in July 2021. Symptoms reported were more likely to be “classic” symptoms than gastrointestinal or loss of taste or smell only. The prevalence of any symptoms and “classic symptoms” were higher in June and July, and January and February, compared with March and April. The most commonly reported symptoms have consistently been cough, fatigue and headache.

The majority of people testing positive for COVID-19 reported symptoms in July 2021

Percentage of people with symptoms, including only those who have strong positive tests (Ct less than 30) by month, UK, 1 December 2020 to 12 July 2021

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Data for percentage of people with symptoms in the UK (XLSX, 20 KB)

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Deaths from COVID-19 increase in the UK

27 July 2021

The number of deaths from all causes in the UK in the week ending 16 July 2021 was 11,053, which is 4.9% above the average for the corresponding week in 2015 to 2019.

Deaths were above the five-year average in England and Scotland, and below the five-year average in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Of these, 268 deaths were registered involving coronavirus (COVID-19), accounting for around 1 in 41 deaths (2.4%). This is a 23.5% increase on the previous week.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 increased in England, Scotland, and increased slightly in Wales compared with the previous week. In Northern Ireland, they remained level.

Deaths include people who are not in their usual country of residence.

Deaths involving COVID-19 increased in the UK in the week to 16 July

Number of deaths registered by week, UK, week ending 8 January 2021 to week ending 16 July 2021

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Data for deaths involving COVID-19 in the week to 16 July (XLSX, 20KB)

Using the most up-to-date data, the total number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales is over 140,000 (141,156 registrations up to 16 July 2021). Between 13 March 2020 and 9 July 2021, there have been 104,115 excess deaths above the five-year average.

Our data are based on deaths registered in England and Wales and include all deaths where “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” was mentioned on the death certificate. Weekly figures are available by local authority and health board.

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England's COVID-19 mortality rate in June was similar to May

23 July 2021

Mortality rates due to coronavirus (COVID-19) in England were similar in June 2021 to the previous month. Before June, mortality rates due to COVID-19 had significantly decreased for four consecutive months.

This mortality rate accounts for the size and age structure of the population and is called the “age-standardised mortality rate” (ASMR).

The ASMR of deaths due to COVID-19 (where COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death) was 7.5 deaths per 100,000 people in England, compared with 7.1 in May 2021. This increase was not statistically significant. In Wales, there were two deaths due to COVID-19, which was too small to calculate a reliable ASMR.

The ASMR excludes non-residents.

Provisional data show a total of 38,611 deaths registered in England in June 2021. This was 1,275 fewer deaths than in June 2020 and 310 more than the June five-year average (2015 to 2019).

In Wales in June 2021, there were 2,560 deaths registered, 132 deaths fewer than in June 2020 and 26 more than the five-year average.

The leading cause of death in both England and Wales in June 2021 was ischaemic heart diseases (10.8% and 11.9% of all deaths respectively).

This compares COVID-19 as a leading cause in 0.9% of all deaths registered in June in England and 0.1% of all deaths in Wales.

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Air travel to and from the UK remained low in January to March 2021

23 July 2021

In Quarter 1 2021, overseas residents made 96% less visits by air to the UK, while UK residents made 94% less visits abroad by air compared with Quarter 1 2020.

During January to March 2021 overseas residents made 195,000 visits by air to the UK as travel continues to be restricted by coronavirus (COVID-19) . Meanwhile, 774,000 visits abroad by air were made by UK residents in January to March 2021. Both figures are in comparison with the equivalent period of January to March 2020.

Of all visits to the UK made in Quarter 1 2021, 127,000 were made to see family and friends and 20,000 business trips were made. Just 7,000 of the trips made in the first quarter were holidays.

In January to March 2021, estimated spending in the UK by overseas visitors decreased by 94% to £248 million when compared with Quarter 1 2020. In the same period, UK residents spent £817 million on visits abroad, 90% less than the equivalent period in 2020.

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User requests

We continue to respond to data requests from the public, media and government during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Responses are published in our list of user requested data.

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View all data used in this article


  • Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional

    Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19), in the latest weeks for which data are available.

  • Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain

    Indicators from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey covering the period 21 to 25 July 2021 to understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain.

  • Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society

    This page has been superseded by the Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators page (see link in Notices) . This will be the new title and location of the bulletin presenting the real-time indicators of economic activity and social change, for 13 May 2021 and future releases.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK

    Estimates for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. This survey is being delivered in partnership with University of Oxford, University of Manchester, Public Health England and Wellcome Trust. This study is jointly led by the ONS and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) working with the University of Oxford and UK Biocentre to collect and test samples.