Covid on the retreat in UK but expect to see infections rise in the short term, says stats expert

The Covid-19 rate of growth across the UK “is slowing”, Professor Sir Ian Diamond the UK’s national statistician has said.

The head of the Office for National Statistics told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday show: “The good news is – yes – we are seeing a slow down in the rate of growth.

“That means we’re still increasing and we are now in England at 1.25 per 1,000. That means that one in 85 people in England, we believe, have the virus.

“In Wales, a little less at one in 100, in Scotland one in 135 and Northern Ireland one in 105.

“So yes we are continuing to increase the numbers, but the rate of growth is slowing.”

Prof Diamond said that he expected to see infections continuing to increase in the initial period of restrictions, as “these are infections that people would have caught before the restrictions started”.

“We moved into this new period of restrictions just a short while ago.

“What you expect to see in the initial period of restrictions is a continued increase, very simply because these are infections that people would have caught before the restrictions started.

“We will be working tirelessly over the next couple of weeks to monitor how the restrictions are working, impacting on the pandemic.

“And towards the end of the restrictions, to provide all the very best data we can to the Government to help ministers with what will clearly be a very different decision.”

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Prof Diamond insisted that a commitment to “openness and transparency” with the presentation of data goes “right across Government”.

“During the first wave, some of my colleagues were embedded into the heart of Government to make sure that the quality of the presentations that were made to the public were at the highest level, and I think that’s incredibly important.

“My experience and my conversations throughout this pandemic with Government has been a real wish, right across Government, for openness and for transparency.

“Some of my colleagues will now be going back into the heart of Government, really to work on making sure that the communication of statistics, the graphs you may see, are at the highest possible level.”

Asked if he had concerns about how data was being presented during the second wave, Sir Ian said: “We at the ONS have been really working tirelessly to make sure that openness and transparency is at the heart of what we do.

“We have a real policy at ONS that we only talk about data which are in the public domain, and I know that that commitment to openness and transparency goes right across Government.”