Coronavirus in Preston: one in eight tests positive as England positivity rate soars
One in eight people screened for coronavirus in Preston are testing positive.
Public Health England figures show 12.3% of people tested in the week to January 6, 2021 had a positive result.
The figures only include polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which are analysed in a lab, and not the newer lateral flow device (LFD) tests which give results on the spot in less than an hour.
With soaring case numbers across the country in recent weeks, some Covid sceptics have questioned whether this simply reflects an increase in the number of tests conducted.
The number of weekly tests conducted in England rose from 1.6 million in the seven days to December 9 to 2.2 million in the seven days to January 6 – a space of just four weeks.
But PHE’s data shows the proportion of tests that are coming back positive has also increased.
The positivity rate across England reached 18.3% in the seven days to December 31 – the highest level since May 1, the date PHE says the figures were first comparable due to the rollout of the Government’s Pillar 2 mass testing programme to the general public.
While it had dropped to 17.6% in the most recent week, it is still far higher than the 7% recorded four weeks previously.
In Preston, the positivity rate stood at just 7% in the week to December 9.
Only unique individuals are counted, with duplicate results for people tested more than once in the seven-day window removed.
Under the current rules, people in most parts of the country can only access PCR tests if they have one of the three main coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change in their sense of smell or taste.
You can also get one if you have been asked to by your local council.
The Government announced on January 10 that all 317 councils in England will soon roll out mass testing for asymptomatic people.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this would identify more cases of coronavirus and ensure those infected self-isolate, with around one in three people with Covid displaying no symptoms.