England's COVID prevalence rises to highest level since January, ONS says

FILE PHOTO: Shopping during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London
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LONDON (Reuters) -The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England increased to around 1 in 60 people in the week ending Oct 9, Britain's Office for National Statistics said on Friday, reaching its highest level since January.

The ONS said that prevalence of infections had risen for its third straight week, having been at 1 in 70 people in the previous week.

The rise takes prevalence to higher levels than were recorded in July, when infections spiked around the end of the Euro 2020 soccer championships, shortly before Prime Minister Boris Johnson fully reopened the economy.

Estimated prevalence was last higher in the week ending Jan. 23, shortly after England entered its third national lockdown.

However, Johnson has said that the widespread deployment of vaccines means that the link between cases and deaths has been disrupted. He has said that the government will rely on vaccines rather than lockdowns to navigate a difficult winter.

The ONS said that cases had increased in the over 50s, who were among the first to receive vaccines and are now being given booster shots, with rollout beginning last month.

Prevalence was highest once again in secondary school children, where an estimated 8.1% of the population were infected, up from 6.93% reported last week.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)

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