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Antibody data for Wales is now published fortnightly in a separate release.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS) is run across the whole of the UK and aims to estimate:

  • how many people have the infection over a given time (positivity);
  • how many new cases occur over a given period (incidence); and
  • how many people have antibodies to COVID-19.

The survey helps track the extent of infection and transmission of COVID-19 among people in private residences, referred to as the community population.

Proportion of people in Wales who had COVID-19

For the week of 14 to 20 March 2021 it is estimated that an average of 0.22% of the community population had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 0.13% to 0.34%).

This equates to around 1 in 450 individuals (95% credible interval: 1 in 780 to 1 in 290), or an estimated 6,700 people in total (credible interval: 3,900 to 10,400).

The percentage of people testing positive in Wales appears level in the most recent week, although there is high uncertainty.

Since the estimates are based on a relatively low number of positive tests, there is some uncertainty and the results should be interpreted with caution.

Further information on the classification of positive cases can be found on the ONS website.

Please note that there is a greater lag in data from the infection survey than from other sources such as Public Health Wales.

Image
Chart showing the official estimates for the percentage of people testing positive through nose and throat swabs from 7 February to 20 March 2021. The positivity rate has decreased recently.

 

Since January 2021, we have reported on the percentage of people testing positive compatible with the new UK variant that was identified in mid-November. Due to the continued decrease in overall percentages testing positive for COVID-19 across the UK, we have removed the new UK variant chart from this publication. The data will continue to be published in the accompanying dataset on the ONS website.

Trends in different variants will continue to be monitored and the chart will be reintroduced if there is a variant that appears to be affecting the trends in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19.

In the week ending 20 March 2021, the trend in the percentage testing positive compatible with the new UK variant is uncertain in Wales.

Percentage of people testing positive by region

Modelled estimates are provided for regions in Wales. Estimates are provided for the seven days up to 20 March 2021 based on modelling the entire seven-day period.

Rates of positive cases appear to remain highest in the region covering Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Newport, though differences between the regions are small.

Due to smaller sample sizes, there is a higher degree of uncertainty in estimates for individual regions, as indicated by larger credible intervals.

Figure 1: Estimates of the percentage of the population in Wales testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) by region between 14 and 20 March 2021

Image
Figure showing the estimates of the percentage of the population in Wales testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) by region between 14 and 20 March 2021.

Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, ONS

Image
Chart showing estimates of the percentage of the population in Wales testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) by region 14 to 20 March 2021.

 

Percentage of people testing positive by age

Rates of positive cases vary by age, but appear to have decreased in all age groups in recent weeks.

Image
Chart showing the modelled estimates for the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 by single year of age on 9 February 2021. Rates of positive cases vary by age.

 

Image
Chart showing the official estimates for the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 by single year of age on 17 March 2021. Rates of positive cases vary by age.

 

In the data used to produce these estimates, the number of people sampled in the different ages who tested positive for COVID-19 was lower relative to Wales overall. This means there is a higher degree of uncertainty in estimates for individual age groups over this period, as indicated by larger credible intervals.

The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 by single year of age since 7 February 2021 for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is provided in the ONS dataset.

Estimates for incidence in Wales

For the first time we are able to present estimates of incidence for Wales. The incidence of new infections (the number of new infections in a set period of time) helps us understand the rate at which infections are growing within the population and supports the main measure of positivity (how many people test positive at any time, related to prevalence) to provide a fuller understanding of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

To account for the increasing proportion of survey participants providing monthly (rather than weekly) swabs, the survey is using a new method for estimating the incidence of positive cases, based on the positivity estimate. The new method estimates how long people test positive for and uses this alongside the positivity model to estimate when new positive infections occurred.

The reference date used for the official estimates of incidence of positive cases is 10 days prior to the end of the positivity reference week, due to later dates being more likely to change.

For more information on the new method of estimating incidence please see the updated methods article on the ONS website.

In Wales, during the week ending 13 March 2021, we estimate that there were 1.29 new positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases per 10,000 people per day (95% credible interval: 0.05 to 2.70).

This equates to 390 new positive cases in Wales per day (95% credible interval: 20 to 820).

Incidence appears to have been level in recent weeks, although credible intervals are wide due to the smaller sample size, and care should be taken in interpreting results.

When prevalence is very low it may not be possible to produce a reliable estimate.

Indicative estimates are provided going back to 28 October 2020.

Image
Chart showing indicative and official estimates for the incidence rate per 10,000 people per day in Wales since 28 October 2020. The positivity rate has decreased recently.

Estimates for the countries of the UK

At the midpoint of the most recent week (14 to 20 March 2021) the highest estimated percentage of the community population with COVID-19 among the nations of the UK was in Scotland (0.41%).

There is some uncertainty around the individual point estimates for the nations. Estimates for the last few days of the series, shown as dashed lines in the chart below, have more uncertainty.

Image
Chart showing the official estimates for the percentage of people testing positive through nose and throat swabs from 7 February to 20 March 2021 for the four countries of the UK.

 

Table 1: Positivity rates across UK countries for the week 14 to 20 March 2021
   Positivity rates
(95% Credible Interval) 
Wales 0.22%
(0.13 to 0.34)
1 in 450 people
(1 in 780 to 1 in 290)
6,700 people
(3,900 to 10,400)
England 0.30%
(0.26 to 0.34)
1 in 340 people
(1 in 380 to 1 in 300)
162,500 people
(143,200 to 183,100)
Scotland 0.41%
(0.30 to 0.54)
1 in 240 people
(1 in 340 to 1 in 180)
21,500 people
(15,600 to 28,500)
Northern Ireland 0.32%
(0.17 to 0.52)
1 in 320 people
(1 in 590 to 1 in 190)
5,800 people
(3,100 to 9,500)

Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, ONS

Table 2: Official estimates of incidence rates across the UK countries, 7 to 13 March 2021
  Incidence
(95% Credible Interval) 
Wales 1.29 cases per 10,000 people per day
(0.05 to 2.70)
390 new cases per day
(20 to 820)
England 2.00 cases per 10,000 people per day
(1.47 to 2.45)
10,900 new cases per day
(8,000 to 13,300)
Scotland 4.13 cases per 10,000 people per day
(2.58 to 5.87)
2,200 new cases per day
(1,400 to 3,100)
Northern Ireland 2.36 cases per 10,000 people per day
(0.61 to 4.76)
430 new cases per day
(110 to 870)

Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, ONS 

Definitions

Community population

This survey covers people living in private households only and this is referred to as the community population. Residents in hospitals, care homes and/or other institutional settings are excluded.

Confidence intervals

A confidence interval gives an indication of the degree of uncertainty of an estimate, showing the precision of a sample estimate. The 95% confidence intervals are calculated so that if we repeated the study many times, 95% of the time the true unknown value would lie between the lower and upper confidence limits. A wider interval indicates more uncertainty in the estimate. Overlapping confidence intervals indicate that there may not be a true difference between two estimates.

Credible intervals

A credible interval gives an indication of the uncertainty of an estimate from data analysis. 95% credible intervals are calculated so that there is a 95% probability of the true value lying in the interval.

Incidence

The number of new infections over a period of time.

Modelled estimates

Estimates of positivity from this survey are based on statistical modelling of the underlying data. The model smooths the series to understand the trend and is revised each week to incorporate new test results.

Point estimates

The headline point estimates are based on the modelled trend and are reflect the most representative reference point for the given week.

Positivity rate

The estimated proportion of people who test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) at a point in time, with or without symptoms, based on nose and throat swabs.

Quality and methodology information

The results of the survey are based on self-administered nose and throat swabs provided by participants to the study. A subgroup of participants also provide blood test, taken by trained field staff.

As well as looking at overall incidence, positivity and antibody level, the survey will be used to examine the characteristics of those testing positive for COVID-19 and the extent to which those infected experience symptoms. The results are for private households only and do not apply to those in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings. This is referred to as the community population.

The survey covers all the countries of the UK, enabling estimates to be calculated for each country individually, and in time the UK as a whole.

Fieldwork started first in England on 26 April 2020 meaning there is more cumulative data available for England enabling more detailed analysis at present. Fieldwork began in Wales on 29 June 2020 followed by Northern Ireland on 26 July 2020 and Scotland on 21 September 2020.

It is important to note that there is a significant degree of uncertainty with the estimates. This is because, despite a large sample of participants, the number of positive cases identified is small. Estimates are provided with 95% credible or confidence intervals to indicate the range within which we may be confident the true figure lies.

The modelled estimates are carried out afresh each week using the previous 6 weeks’ data. The model works by smoothing the series to understand the trend and is revised each week to incorporate new test results. This means that the latest estimate for an earlier period may be different to the official estimate that was produced at the time. Chart 1 shows the latest modelled trend and the official (point) estimates that were published at the time.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes weekly statistical bulletins and references tables and periodic statistical articles which include results for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland as they become available.  The estimates for Northern Ireland and Scotland are published by the respective administrations, as we do here for Wales. 

Further information about quality and methodology can be found on the ONS website and the survey pages on the Oxford University site.

Well-being of Future Generations Act (WFG)

The Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. The Act puts in place seven well-being goals for Wales. These are for a more equal, prosperous, resilient, healthier and globally responsible Wales, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. Under section (10)(1) of the Act, the Welsh Ministers must (a) publish indicators (“national indicators”) that must be applied for the purpose of measuring progress towards the achievement of the Well-being goals, and (b) lay a copy of the national indicators before Senedd Cymru. The 46 national indicators were laid in March 2016.

Information on the indicators, along with narratives for each of the well-being goals and associated technical information is available in the Well-being of Wales report.

Further information on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

The statistics included in this release could also provide supporting narrative to the national indicators and be used by public services boards in relation to their local well-being assessments and local well-being plans.

Next update

1 April 2021

Contact details

Statistician: Lisa Bloemberg
Telephone: 0300 025 0166
Email: kas.covid19@gov.wales

Media: 0300 025 8099

SFR 86/2021

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