A nurse administers a test in Stoke-on-Trent (Image: PA)
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The number of coronavirus cases in the community in England is estimated to have fallen by nearly 9,000 during the first week of lockdown.
One in every 80 people had coronavirus across England last week, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed.
England's national lockdown is expected to be lifted on Wednesday, December 2, although it is not clear yet if a return to stricter tiers will come into force in the run up to Christmas Day.
These figures will be looked at keenly with a proposed five-day window of relaxed rules over the festive season having been suggested, although some experts say a 25-day lockdown may be required afterwards.
There were an average of 38,900 new cases per day of Covid-19 in private households in England between November 8 to 14.
LAKEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 14: A nurse administers a flu vaccination shot to a woman at a free clinic held at a local library on October 14, 2020 in Lakewood, California. Medical experts are hoping the flu shot this year will help prevent a ‘twindemic’- an epidemic of influenza paired with a second wave of COVID-19 which could lead to overwhelmed hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
This is down almost 8,000 from an estimated 47,700 new cases per day for the period October 31 to November 6.
The ONS said the rate of new infections "appears to have levelled off in the most recent week".
While positivity rates have continued to increase in London, eastern England and the South East, rates now appear to be decreasing in north-west England and the East Midlands.
The highest rates remain in the North West (with an estimated 2.0% of people in private households testing positive for Covid-19) and Yorkshire & the Humber (1.9%).
An estimated 664,700 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between November 8 and 14, the ONS said.
This is the equivalent of around 1.22% of the population.
The figures represent a slight increase from 654,000 people, or 1.20% of the population, who were estimated to have Covid-19 in the period October 31 to November 6.
The ONS said there are "substantial differences" in positivity rates for different regions of England, which has led to a national rate "similar to last week".
The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
(Image: LHR AIRPORTS LIMITED/AFP via Get)
Katherine Kent, co-head of analysis for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: "There are early signs that the national level of infections in England might be levelling off but this hides a lot of variation at a regional level.
"While the highest levels of infection remain in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, rates are now decreasing in the North West and the East Midlands while increasing in London, the East of England and the South East.
"New increases appear to be driven by infections in younger people, with increasing levels in primary school age children.
"Elsewhere in the UK, we are seeing a similar picture with increasing infections throughout October which are now decreasing in Wales and Northern Ireland and levelling off in Scotland."
Positivity rates in Wales seem to have peaked around the end of October, with rates decreasing over the past two weeks.
During November 8 to 14, the ONS estimates that 18,400 people in Wales had Covid-19, equating to 1 in 165 people.
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Northern Ireland appears to have peaked around the middle of October, with rates decreasing over the most recent four weeks.
From November 8 to 14 the ONS estiamtes that 13,600 people in Northern Ireland were infected, equating to 1 in 135 people.
And in Scotland rates increased throughout most of October and now appear to have levelled off.
From November 8 to 14 November, 33,800 people in Scotland had coronavirus, equating to 1 in 155 people.
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When modelling the level of infection among different age groups, the ONS said rates among secondary school-aged children (school years 7 to 11) now appear to be increasing again, while rates for young adults (school year 12 to age 24) appear to show early signs of levelling off.
Both these age groups continue to have the highest estimated rates of infection.
Rates are continuing to increase in primary school-aged children (school year two to six), but "appear to be levelling off" in people aged 25 and over, the ONS added.