Coronavirus cases rose in a THIRD of England’s 150 councils in England last week… but outbreak is ONLY being driven by huge spike in school testing as data shows infection rates in over-70s are at lowest levels since AUGUSTSome 56 of 149 local authorities saw an uptick in their Covid infections last week, says Public Health EnglandBut when this is broken down by age it shows case rates were only rising among school childrenThey fell fastest, however, among the over-70s and plunged to their lowest rate in this group since August 

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England’s coronavirus outbreak advanced in a third of local authorities last week – but the rise was driven by schoolchildren who are least at risk from the virus. 

Some 56 of 149 council areas saw an uptick in cases over the week to March 21, according to the latest surveillance report from Public Health England.

But when the figures were broken down by age group they showed infections only spiked among five to nine-year-olds, by more than half, and 10 to 19-year-olds, by a quarter compared to the previous week.

Cases dipped in all other age groups, and fell fastest among the over-70s – who are most at risk from the virus – where they plunged to their lowest levels since August. Everyone in the group has received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.

Schools were reopened to all pupils on March 8 as the first tentative step on Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, but children and teachers have been asked to swab themselves for the virus twice a week.

Experts say this doubling in the number of tests done each day is behind the rise in infection rates, adding that had these tests not been carried out many of these infections would have gone unreported.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, a top SAGE adviser, warned today it appeared ‘transmission was just starting to tick up’ across England because schools had reopened.

But the Wellcome Trust chief said the biggest threat was from abroad, amid a spiralling third wave in Europe and the mounting spread of dangerous variants – including the South African strain – that make vaccines less effective.

Some 56 of 149 council areas saw an uptick in cases over the week to March 21, according to the latest surveillance report from Public Health England

But when the figures were broken down by age they showed cases were only ticking up among those aged five to 19, but were still falling across all other age groups. They fell fastest in the over-70s who are least at risk from the virus

The positivity rate from cases has stabalised in all regions of England, but experts say this is because of additional testing

Boris Johnson requires every school child in England to test themselves for Covid twice a week, to ensure any outbreaks can be nipped in the bud. This has led to a doubling in the number of swabs carried out each day

Public Health England data showed infection rates were ticking upwards in central England, in parts of London and across the East and South East.

But they continued to fall across the rest of the nation, and dipped fastest in Devon, the Lake district, and in large parts of Manchester and Liverpool.

The largest spike in infection rates was recorded in Dudley, outside Birmingham, where they rose by 65 per cent (to 85.5 cases per 100,000 residents). Dr Lisa McNally, the public health director for neighbouring Sandwell, has said the rise may be linked to the return of schools and more tests being carried out.

Rutland had the second-highest rise, where they jumped by 55 per cent (42.6 per 100,000). The county has faced Covid outbreaks before driven by the local prison – HMP Stocken – but rates remained low in the community.

Northumberland had the third-highest spike in infections, after they jumped by 54 per cent (74.7 per 100,000). Covid outbreaks have already been reported at two local schools in the county.

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