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Covid cases in England's community have soared with 1 in every 95 people carrying the disease last week.

The Office for National Statistics estimated around 577,700 to 625,300 people had Covid at any time in the week to July 10.

A week earlier the data suggested 1 in 160 people in England's community were positive in the week ending July 3 – 332,900 positive cases overall.

England's rate is far higher than Wales (1 in 360 people) and Northern Ireland (1 in 290 people) but around the same as Scotland (1 in 90 people).

It comes after England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty hinted the government may have to look again at restrictions in as little as five weeks' time – despite Covid laws on masks and social distancing being axed this Monday.

Prof Whitty said: "I don't think we should underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again, surprisingly fast."

Shoppers in Ashton, Tameside where COVID infection rates are increasing at an alarming rate
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)

Prof Whitty added that more people could be fighting the disease in hospital "in five, six, seven, eight weeks' time", and went on: "They could actually be really quite serious… at that point if it looks as if things are not topping out, we do have to look again and see where we think things are going. "

Solicitor General Lucy Frazer said: "Of course if we get into a situation where it’s unacceptable and we do need to put back further restrictions, then that of course is something the government will look at."

The data comes from the ONS's Infection Survey, which measures how coronavirus is spreading in the community.

Unlike most testing figures, it uses a formula to estimate total cases of coronavirus – regardless of whether people have tested positive or not. That means it is much higher than other estimates of the virus.

However, it only looks at the community, so excludes places like hospitals, care homes and other "institutional" settings like prisons.

This breaking news story is being updated.