Record 4.9 million people in UK had Covid-19 last week 3 months ago

Record 4.9 million people in UK had Covid-19 last week

It comes as free testing is scrapped for the vast majority of people in England

Covid infections hit an all-time high in England and across the UK last week, official figures reveal.

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The latest stats from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), based on swabs collected from randomly selected houses, estimated that 4,122,700 people in England had the virus in the week ending March 26 - equivalent to 1 in 13 people. This is up 638,000 from the previous week when 1 in 16 people was thought to have covid.

Across the UK, a record 4.9 million people were estimated to have covid last week, compared to 4.3 million the week before.

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Along with England, Wales is also showing record infection levels, with 1 in 14 (212,000 people) thought to have covid right now, compared to 1 in 16 (192,900 people) the week before.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are showing slightly lower infection levels compared to recent records.

After seeing covid infections rise for eight consecutive weeks, Scotland has seen its first week-on-week drop - although ONS described the latest trend as "uncertain". One in 12 (or 451,000 people) were thought to have covid in Scotland last week, compared to one in 11 (or 473,800 people) the week prior.

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Similarly, the trend in Northern Ireland has also been described by ONS as "uncertain", with one in 15 people (123,000 people) thought to have covid last week, a rise from the one in 17 (108,700 people) the week before.

Covid tests will no longer be free for the vast majority of people in England (Getty) Covid tests will no longer be free for the vast majority of people in England (Getty)

The record-breaking figures come as covid tests are no longer free for the vast majority of people in England.

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Health Secretary Sajid Javid said we must "learn to live with Covid" but focus resources on "those that need it most".

NHS staff caring directly for patients, patients in hospital, people eligible for community covid drug treatments, people living in care homes, and people working in high-risk settings such as care homes will still be able to get free tests. Ministers argue that even though infections are rising, vaccines are working to protect the vast majority of people.

Charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society have criticised the move to scrap free tests and have been campaigning to keep lateral flow tests free for people visiting loved ones in care homes.

Tests will still be free in Scotland and Northern Ireland throughout April, and until summer in Wales.

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