Positive Covid tests are now more than double what they were in second lockdown

Coronavirus cases have been rising across England (file image) (Image: PA)

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The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England is now more than double what it was when the November lockdown began.

Test and Trace figures today show 388,037 people tested positive at least once in England in the week to January 6.

That was up 21% from the previous week and the highest on record.

Today’s statistics note: “Positive cases are double what they were at the start of the November lockdown.”

In the first week of November there were 168,323 positive test results – before the new variant spread widely in the UK.

There are not comparable figures with last March’s lockdown because widespread testing wasn’t available.

An Army member helps deliver a coronavirus test in Liverpool
(Image: Getty Images)

Today’s figures from the part-privatised Test and Trace show waiting times for test results have risen again.

The number of people tested rose 34% from the previous week – but they are waiting longer to find out if they have Covid.

Average waiting times are now 68 hours for home test kits and 54 hours for satellite kits used in care homes.

Those are up from 37 and 41 hours respectively since the end of November.

A steady 93% close contacts of Covid sufferers were reached by Test and Trace and told to self-isolate.

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After months of trailing as low as 60%, this figure has been consistently high after bosses changed the way they count data.

Test and Trace now classes an entire household as being contacted if callers speak to one member of the home.

It comes after a SAGE expert warned coronavirus lockdown rules could be needed in some form until the Autumn.

Prof Neil Ferguson said easing the rules will only be a "gradual process" – despite signs cases are "plateauing" in some parts of the country.

It came as a second health expert, Susan Hopkins of Public Health England (PHE), today predicted England will have a “difficult time at least until Easter”. She urged people to “keep going” with lockdown rules despite a vaccine rollout ramping up.

AstraZeneca hopes to deliver 2million doses a week of its jab alone to the UK by mid-February, on top of the Pfizer jab.

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Government sources claim the rollout could reach 400,000 per day in order to meet a target of inoculating the most vulnerable by February 15.

Prof Ferguson today said there is a "sign of plateauing" in cases and hospital admissions after England’s lockdown.

But asked if there could be restrictions for many months to come, he said: "Yes, and we can't predict all of these things in advance."

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