Covid’s now in every classroom: One in TWENTY children were infected on any day last week as official statistics show England’s outbreak grew 6% in the wake of schools reopening… so how prevalent is the virus in YOUR area?
One in 20 children in England were infected with Covid on any given day last week, official data revealed today amid fears a fourth wave may be just around the corner.
The Office for National Statistics today estimated 658,800 people in England had the virus on September 25, up 6.2 per cent on the previous weekly figure.
Analysis showed the virus was most prevalent among children aged 11 to 16, with 4.6 per cent of them estimated to have been infected – the equivalent of around one infected pupil in every classroom.
With the outbreak having exploded among pupils since they went back at the start of September, some scientists have urged secondary schools to reintroduce face masks immediately to prevent infections tricking into the rest of the population.
Meanwhile, bosses at Staffordshire County Council today urged 500 schools to be ‘proactive’ and reimplement infection control measures that were scrapped by No10 in mid-May, including bubbles and contact-tracing.
The ONS data, which is closely watched by ministers, barely changed in any other age groups last week, despite a flurry of other official statistics suggesting the outbreak has already started to spill over.
One scientist behind one of the country’s largest Covid surveillance studies yesterday warned infections were now spreading up the ‘generational ladder’.
The estimated infection rates among 11 to 16-year-olds in England marks a rise from the 2.8 per cent who were thought to be infected one week earlier.
Children aged two to 10 have the next-highest infection rate, with around one in 40 (2.6 per cent) of them thought to have the virus on any given day last week, up from 2.3 per cent one week earlier.
Cases are also rising among the over-70s, with an estimated 0.5 per cent of them infected, compared to 0.4 per cent last week.
Depression rates are 70% higher than before Covid but have been dropping since lockdown was lifted in summer, official survey shows
Rates of depression in Britain are falling after shooting up during the Covid pandemic, official data shows.
The Office for National Statistics estimated that 10 per cent of adults in the UK were depressed before the virus first struck.
This more than doubled to a record 21 per cent last winter after two brutal waves of the epidemic and three lockdowns, with women and young people worst affected.
The ONS estimates that the proportion has come down to 17 per cent last month, based on its rolling survey of nearly 14,000 people across the country.
Lockdowns, social isolation, job cuts and fears about the pandemic have all been linked to higher rates of depression in other studies.
Most Covid curbs and social restrictions have been dropped around the UK since the summer despite some variation between countries.
It is compulsory in Scotland and Wales, for example, to wear a face mask in most indoor public spaces.
The furlough scheme came to an end this week and there are concerns this could lead to a wave of job losses.
But cases are falling or flat in all other age groups.
Among 17 to 24-year-olds, 1.1 per cent are thought to have Covid, down from 1.5 per cent last week, while 0.6 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds had the virus last week, a drop from 0.7 per cent.
Meanwhile, 0.8 per cent of people aged 35 to 49 had the coronavirus and 0.7 per cent of those aged 50 to 69 – the same as the previous week.
The uptake in cases among younger groups led Staffordshire County Council to tell schools to bring back wide-ranging measures to control the outbreak in the area, which has seen infections surged by 28.8 per cent in a week.
The council said pupils should wear face coverings, while staff should stay 2m away from students. And there should not be any all-staff meetings or all-school events, such as assemblies, it advised.
It also told pupils living with someone who tests positive to stay at home until they receive a negative PCR test, despite not being able to legally enforce this measure.
Professor Christina Pagel, a mathematician at University College London, this week called for infection control measures to be brought back at a national level.
She said: ‘I think we need to put mitigations back in schools, particularly masks in secondary schools, now and roll out the vaccine a bit more rapidly.’
Professor Pagel warned the spiralling infection rates in children, risks of them suffering ‘long Covid’ and a slow vaccine roll out meant action should be taken to limit the spread of the virus.
It comes as the ONS data shows infections across the UK are a mixed picture. Cases are rising in England and Wales, where one in 85 (1.21 per cent) and one in 55 (1.76 per cent) people were estimated to have Covid last week, respectively.
Meanwhile, caes are dropping in Scotland, where one in 65 people (1.85 per cent) were infected last week, down from one in 45 (2.28 per cent) in the seven days up to September 18.
And one in 65 people in Northern Ireland (1.53 pere cent) had the virus last week, a drop from one in 60 one week earlier, according to the official estimates.