Covid tests in Leeds returning almost twice as many positive results as England’s positivity rate soars

An increasing proportion of people screened for Covid in Leeds are testing positive - with the rate almost doubling in Leeds in less than a month

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 11:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 6:14 pm
Covid test rates have almost doubled in a month

Public Health England figures show 13.3% of people in Leeds tested in the week to January 6th had a positive result.

That is almost double the seven-day positivity rate recorded less than a month previously on December 9, although slightly lower than the 13.5% rate recorded a week before, on December 30.

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.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

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 9th to 2.2 million in the seven days to January 6th – 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 31st – the highest level since May 1st, 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.

It had dropped to 17.6% in the week to January 6th, still far higher than the 7% recorded four weeks previously.

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 10th 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.