Covid-19 has reinfected nearly 16,000 people, Public Health England figures have shown for the first time.
Some 15,893 possible reinfections of coronavirus have been identified in England, according to data. Across the UK, 4.6 million have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Reinfections are defined as people who have tested positive for a second time at least 90 days after first testing positive for the virus.
Dr Susan Hopkins, strategic director for Covid-19 at Public Health England, which published the figures on Thursday, said while the rate was low, people should continue to follow the guidelines and make sure not to become complacent.
Of the 15,893 possible reinfections up to May 30, 53 have so far been confirmed by identifying genetically distinct specimens from each episode of illness, Public Health England said.
The figures are part of ongoing analysis into reinfection levels, which is currently affected by the limited availability of data for identifying the genomic sequence of the virus, particularly in the early months of the pandemic.
No room for complacency
Dr Hopkins said: “People are understandably concerned about whether you can catch Covid-19 more than once. While we know that people can catch viruses more than once, this data currently suggests that the rate of Covid-19 reinfection is low.
“However, it is important that we do not become complacent about this – it is vital to have both doses of the vaccine and to follow the guidance at all times to reduce your chance of any infection.
“We continue to learn more each day about this virus and its variants. Through continued close monitoring and research, we will understand how best we can control outbreaks and the impact this virus will have on society over the coming years.”
Is the UK on track to hit vaccination targets?
The new data comes as daily lab-confirmed cases of the virus rose above 10,000 for the first time in four months.
There were a further 11,007 lab-confirmed cases in the UK as of 9am on Thursday, the Government said.
This is the highest single-day rise since February 19 and the first time cases reported have risen above 10,000 in one day since February 22.
The Government said a further 19 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 127,945.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.