Covid positivity rate: proportion of people testing positive rises in every part of England after steady decline

With facemasks now optional and no limits on socialising, it feels like Covid has shrunk to background noise - but what does the data say? 

More people are testing positive in every part of England - with Yorkshire and East Midlands worst affected

The proportion of Covid-19 tests coming back positive in England has increased over the past week with Yorkshire and the East Midlands worst affected.

UK government data reveals the proportion of positive tests had been declining, dipping  just under 6% on the 16 and 17 September, before rising to almost 7% in the last few days.

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The number of people taking PCR tests is steadily rising, with recent figures showing over 2.8 million tested in the seven days to 24 September , up from 2.6 million a week earlier

But the proportion of people testing positive is rising with it.

The positivity rate is the percentage of people who have tested positive for the virus out of everyone who has been tested. This rate gives us an indication of how many people are infected with the virus and how it is spreading in that area.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given a 5% limit on positivity test rates to determine whether the pandemic is under control – but only 46 councils in England were under 5% in the week to 23 September.

Which regions are most affected?

Whilst every region in England has seen an increase in positivity rates in the latest week , the regions with the highest rate are Yorkshire and The Humber and the East Midlands.

In the seven days to 24 September, both regions had a positivity rate of 10%.

That was an increase of 1.6 and 1.7 percentage points respectively from the week to 17 September, when 8.4% of people tested in Yorkshire and 8.3% in the East Midlands were positive.

The West Midlands region is not too far behind, with a positivity rate of 8.6%, while in the North East it stood at 8.5%.

What does the South look like? 

Positivity rates are much lower in the South of england.

The South West had the highest rate with 6.2%, jumping up from 4.8% from the week to 17 September.

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However, with only 0.3 percentage points difference, the South East had a positivity rate of 5.9% in the seven days leading up to 24 September.

London had the lowest positivity rate of all the regions, at 4.3%, in the week leading up to 23 September, which is a slight rise from the 4.1% during the week before.

Which areas are most affected?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given a 5% limit on positivity test rates to determine whether the pandemic is under control, yet only 46 councils are under 5%.

Kettering, in the East Midlands, had a 15.2% positivity test rate from the latest figures from 23 September.

Blaby, also in the East Midlands, showed a positivity rate of 14.6%.

These were followed by Barnsley, North Lincolnshire and Harborough with 14%, 13.6% and 13.2% respectively.

The lowest figures stem from London, with Westminster at 2%, Camden at 2.3% and Islington at 2.6%.