Coronavirus test positivity soars in Wigan

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The proportion of people in the borough who are screened for coronavirus testing positive has risen rapidly.

Public Health England (PHE) figures show 16.2 per cent of those tested in the seven days up to January 6 had a positive result.

That is almost one in six borough residents tested in that period having Covid-19.

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The percentage of people testing positive in Wigan almost doubled in a fortnight.

The Covid-19 test centre on Chapel Lane in WiganThe Covid-19 test centre on Chapel Lane in Wigan
The Covid-19 test centre on Chapel Lane in Wigan

The PHE data shows how quickly positivity rates have risen, with a surge in the average from 8.5 per cent in the seven days ending on December 23 to 15.4 per cent in the period ending on December 30.

There have been four successive average rises from the 7.7 per cent positivity rate recorded in the seven days ending on December 16.

The Wigan figures mirror the general trend across the country.

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The positivity rate across England reached 18.3 per cent in the seven days to December 31, which was the highest level on record.

It had dropped slightly to 17.6 per cent in the week to January 6, but that was still far higher than the seven per cent recorded four weeks previously.

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.

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.

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The number of weekly tests conducted in England rose from 1.6m in the seven days to December 9 to 2.2m in the seven days to January 6

But PHE’s data shows the proportion of tests that are coming back positive has also increased.

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.

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You can also get one if you have been asked to by your local council.

The Government announced on January 10 that all 317 councils in England will soon roll out mass testing for asymptomatic people, using LFD tests.

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.

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