COVID-19: Record high positivity rates in five of the six Liverpool City Region boroughs
Amid record-breaking daily Covid infection figures in England, the proportion of tests taken coming back positive is also the highest on record.
The latest UK COVID-19 dashboard figures show 22.4% of people who took a PCR test in the week to 24 December got at least one positive result.
The trend is mirrored in the Liverpool City Region, where five of the six council boroughs hit record high rates.
Knowsley, St Helens, Halton and Liverpool all exceed the UK’s average record high rate.
In all but the latter, the rate was as high as one in four people tested registering positive for COVID-19.
Knowsley had the highest positivity rate in the region, hitting 25.5% - the 62nd highest in England.
While Wirral (20.3%) was the only borough not to register a record high rate for their area, according to the latest figures.
The London borough of Barking and Dagenham has the worst rate in the country at 34.1%.
Duplicate results for people who took more than one test are not counted.
England’s figure is the highest rate since 1 May 2020 when comparable records began, surpassing the previous peak of 19.5% on 22 December.
While the rate was higher before 1 May, Public Health England has said the figures then were not comparable as mass testing for the general public had not been fully rolled out.
It comes amid reports government officials are weighing up a return to the ‘rule of six’ in the new year for social mixing, as cases continue to soar across the country.
Positivity rates for the Liverpool City Region boroughs are:
Knowsley hit 25.5%, higher than the previous record of 23.7% in January 2021. The region has the 62nd highest rate in England.
St Helens recorded 25%, higher than the previous record of 21.8% on 23 December, 2021. The region has the 69th highest rate in England.
Halton hit 24.8%, matching the record high for January, 2021. The region has the 75th highest rate in England.
Liverpool recorded 24.2%, higher than the previous record of 21.8% in January, 2021. The region has the 86th highest rate in England.
Sefton hit 21.4%, higher than the previous record of 18.9% on 23 December, 2021. The region has the 158th highest rate in England.
Wirral hit 20.3%, the record high for the region is 20.5% in January, 2021. The region has the 186th highest rate in England.
Increasing rate in England
The positivity rate in England has climbed rapidly since the start of December, when it was at 9.6%.
The rate is used to measure the true scale of infection, as an overall increase in cases could be caused by more tests being carried out.
An increase in testing would also return a proportionately higher number of negative results if the virus was not running rampant in communities. A high positivity rate indicates widespread infection.
Previously the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that a positivity rate of 5% is the threshold for determining if a pandemic is under control.
England has not been below this level since 27 June. Every council area had a higher rate at the latest count.
The 5% benchmark was set long before effective vaccines were developed.
At that point WHO advised that policymakers should only consider lifting restrictions if the rate was below this point for two weeks. It has not stated whether vaccines affect the benchmark.