Coronavirus infections appear to be rising among older people in England, with cases remaining at a high level despite a wide decline since a peak in January, according to a government-commissioned study released on Thursday.
The REACT COVID-19 monitoring programme, which looked at almost 95,000 home swab tests carried out in February, showed that around 1 in 35 people in England were infected with the virus during the period and that infections increased in people aged 55 and over.
The researchers said the increase could be due to greater socializing since all coronavirus restrictions were lifted at the end of February, as well as reduced vaccine recall protection.
Paul Elliott, the study director, said there was an increase in hospitalizations and infections, particularly in the elderly group. But we don’t know where it will take us, he added.
We really need to closely monitor infection data through surveys, such as REACT, and we need to monitor hospitalization, Elliott said.
Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency, said the data showed the pandemic was not over and we can expect to see COVID circulating at high levels.
Official figures showed more than 346,000 people tested positive in the past 7 days, a jump of 46% from the previous week.
The study estimated that almost half of the positive cases were a subvariant of the omicron variant, which the researchers believe is more transmissible.
The British government lifted all COVID-19 restrictions in England on February 24, as infection rates and hospitalizations fell after a spike in December and January.
People who test positive are no longer legally required to self-isolate at home, and face coverings in public places and contact tracing of infected people have also been scrapped.
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