One in 20 people were estimated to have the virus in Scotland and Wales, along with one in 25 in Northern Ireland.
In total an estimated 3.7 million people in the UK had Covid-19 in the week to New Year’s Eve, up from 2.3 million in the week to December 23 and the highest number since comparable figures began in autumn 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
All estimates are for people in private households and do not include hospitals, care homes and other settings.
The figures reflect the impact of the Omicron variant of coronavirus on the spread of the virus in the UK over the festive period.
Infections compatible with Omicron “continued to increase rapidly” in all four nations in the week between Christmas and New Year, the ONS said, with Omicron “now the most common variant” right across the country.
But while London had the highest estimate for any area of the UK, there were “early signs” in the last few days of the year that infections were no longer increasing in the capital – although “it is currently too early to suggest if this is a continuing change in trend”, the ONS added.
The number of Covid-19 infections in the UK, which is estimated every week by the ONS, is not the same as the number of new cases of coronavirus which are reported every day by the Government.
The number of infections provides a snapshot of the prevalence of Covid-19 within the entire community population of the UK, and estimates the percentage of people who are likely to test positive for the virus at any one point – regardless of when they caught the virus, how long they have had it, and whether they have symptoms.
It is based on a sample of swab tests collected from households across the UK.
By contrast, the number of cases of Covid-19 reported each day by the Government includes only those people who have newly tested positive for the virus, and is therefore affected by how many people are coming forward for tests, or who are taking a test because they know they have coronavirus symptoms.
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