COVID surging ahead of Christmas

December 23, 2020

This article has not been updated recently

According to the ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures based on swab tests data from up to five days ago, daily new cases of COVID-19 in the UK are now surging. 

Key findings from ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey this week: 

  • There are currently 38,719 daily new symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average over the two weeks up to 18 December (excluding care homes) 
  • This compares to 26,897 daily new symptomatic cases five days ago - a 44% increase (13 December) 
  • The UK R value is 1.2.
  • Regional R values are: England, 1.3. Wales, 1.3. Scotland, 1.1. (full table below) 
  • Wales still has an R value of 1.3 and daily new cases are still rising rapidly with proportionally more cases than anywhere else in the UK
  • Cases in London continue to increase rapidly with an R value of 1.4. There are still large differences across the boroughs. Havering and Enfield are still the worst affected areas this week, followed by Newham, Kingston upon Thames, Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames are the least affected areas (see a map and a graph of for London below)
  • Cases are now rising rapidly in the 20-49 yr old age groups.. Cases in the over 60s are only slightly up nationally from last week, however cases in Wales are still rapidly increasing, which is a worrying metric linked to hospital admissions (see graph below)

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures are based on around one million weekly reporters and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 13,244 swab tests done between 4 to 18 December 2020. 

ZOE COVID Symptom Study English Tier Dashboard 

With the recent Tier change announcements, the ZOE COVID Symptom Study’s English Tier Dashboard [**] this week shows the regions that are performing badly in Tier 2 and well in Tier 3/4. Full table of results below. 

Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments on the latest data:
“Cases in the UK are still rising rapidly with an R value of 1.3 doubling roughly every week. This new virus strain is being blamed for the recent surge in London and the South East, but while it is definitely becoming the dominant strain in new infections, there’s still no hard evidence yet to support that it is acting differently.
"It’s possible that these rapid changes would have happened anyway, just as they have done in Wales which has 4 times the national rate. Whichever strain is causing the recent increases, we are still in a mess and need to limit the number of cases, especially in the elderly to help the NHS.
"Testing alone is not going to stop the spread, just as it didn’t with the previous waves. People need to know all the symptoms and not just focus on the three “official” symptoms that miss over 20% of cases. Headache, fatigue, diarrhoea, muscle pain, skipping meals and confusion are just some of the other symptoms associated with COVID-19. If anyone is suffering from any of these over the coming weeks, stay at home, self isolate and get a test.” 

Graphs and tables for ZOE COVID Symptom Study - 23rd December 2020:

Worst performing regions in Tier 2:

Best performing regions in Tier 3/4:

Incidence / Daily new symptomatic cases regional breakdown [*] 

Borough-level Prevalence map of London

Borough-level prevalence rates in London

The COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey results over time for the UK

Table of R Values

Map of UK prevalence figures: 

Estimated rate of people with Symptomatic COVID across age groups

Text Link
Discover more
about your health
Visit the ZOE Health Academy to learn more about your unique biology.
Learn more

Other updates

Join our science newsletter

The clearest, deepest and freshest insights in nutrition science, straight from the experts.

Thank you. 
Please check your email and confirm your subscription to our mailing list.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get in touch

Please complete the reCAPTCHA and try again

Thank you

Your submission has been received
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.