The latest UK Covid dashboard figures show 19.5% of people who took a PCR test in the week to December 22 got at least one positive result and data released up to December 24, showed it rose again to 20.7 per cent then 22.4 per cent.
Mansfield and Ashfield’s positivity rate as of December 24 (rate over the seven days up to December 24) was 23.3 per cent, ranked 113th in England (where 1 is the highest) and was a record high. The area’s last recorded high was 21.4 per cent on December 23.
In London, the epicentre of the Omicron spread, one in four people (24.9 per cent) tested positive. One of the city’s boroughs, Barking and Dagenham, saw the rate reach more than 30 per cent.
England’s figure is the highest rate since May 1, 2020 when comparable records began, surpassing the previous peak of 18.3 last January.
While the rate was higher before May 1.
Public Health England has said the figures then were not comparable as mass testing for the general public had not been fully rolled out.
It comes amid reports government officials are weighing up a return to the ‘rule of six’ in the new year for social mixing, as cases continue to soar across the country.
The positivity rate has climbed rapidly since the start of December, when it was at 9.6 per cent. The rate is used to measure the true scale of infection, as an overall increase in cases could be caused by more tests being carried out.
An increase in testing would also return a proportionately higher number of negative results if the virus was not running rampant in communities. A high positivity rate indicates widespread infection.
Previously the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that a positivity rate of 5% is the threshold for determining if a pandemic is under control.
England has not been below this level since June 27. Every council area had a higher rate at the latest count. The 5% benchmark was set long before effective vaccines were developed.
At that point WHO advised that policymakers should only consider lifting restrictions if the rate was below this point for two weeks. It has not stated whether vaccines affect the benchmark..
London had the highest positivity rate across England in the week to December 22, at 24.9 per cent.The North West followed at 20.9 per cent. The lowest rate was in the North East, where it was 13.8 per cent.
Of the 20 councils with the highest rates, 14 were in the capital, but Gedling and Nottingham, near Mansfield and Ashfield, also featured.
The UK’s top 20 were: Barking and Dagenham, London; 30.4 per cent, Bexley, London; 29.1 per cent; Havering, London; 29.1 per cent, Lewisham, London; 29.1 per cent, Greenwich, London; 28.6 per cent, Thurrock, Essex; 28.6 per cent, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire; 28.3 per cent, Newham, London; 28 per cent, Croydon, London; 27.9 per cent, Dartford, Kent; 27.6 per cent, Southwark, London; 27.3 per cent, Lambeth, London; 27.2 per cent, Bromley, London; 27 per cent, Haringey, London; 26.9 per cent, Tameside, Manchester; 26.9 per cent, Sutton, London; 26.6 per cent; Gedling, Nottinghamshire; 26.4 per cent, Hackney and City of London, London; 26.4 per cent, Tower Hamlets, London; 26.3 per cent and Nottingham, East Midlands, 26.2 per cent.