Covid case rates in parts of Reading are among the highest in the country, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Around 1 in 15 people living in West Berkshire tested positive in the seven days ending March 12, or 6.68 per cent of people in private households.

Calcot, parts of Tilehurst and the north west of Reading are within this region.

Only four reporting areas in England have a higher rate of infection:

  • Lambeth (1 in 14)
  • Eastbourne; Hastings; Lewes; Rother; Wealden (1 in 14)
  • Cornwall; Isles of Scilly (1 in 14)
  • Sutton (1 in 13)

By comparison, areas like Doncaster, Sunderland and Cheshire recorded half the rate of West Berkshire infections (1 in 30).

About the data

The estimates are based on sample sizes that are smaller than those used for the national and regional ONS figures. This means there is more uncertainty around the figures and caution should be taken when interpreting them, the ONS said.

The ONS has reported a widening gap between Government’s official Covid-19 figures and the likely true number of people becoming infected with the virus.

An average of 34,500 cases of coronavirus per day were being recorded at the end of February, according to the Government’s Covid-19 dashboard.

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But the true total was likely to be more than seven times this figure, at 251,500 a day, according to estimates published on Friday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Reading Chronicle:

The gap has increased from mid-February, when the estimate was five times the dashboard average, while at the end of January it was three and a half times the size.

The Government figures have always under-represented the true level of coronavirus in the country, because they only count people who have reported themselves as having tested positive.

This means they are affected by how many people are taking tests and choosing to report the results.

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But the growing size of the gap between the two totals shows just how many people are being missed from the official tally.

The ONS figures are based on nose and throat swabs taken regularly from a representative sample of tens of thousands of people in private households, regardless of whether they know they have Covid-19 or have reported a positive result.

In doing this, the ONS is able to produce estimates of the true number of people who are being infected with coronavirus each day across the country.

Professor Kevin McConway of the Open University said there was now a “major discrepancy” between the dashboard numbers and the ONS estimates, which are published each Friday in the weekly infection survey.

“The most obvious explanation is that people just aren’t being tested as much as they were, so the dashboard isn’t picking up new infections in the same way that it did,” he added.

“The indications are that the trends on the dashboard may well not be representing what’s actually going on.

“This discrepancy is a very important reason why it’s important to continue with the infection survey.”

Analysis by the PA news agency of the latest ONS data shows that around 1.5 million new Covid-19 infections are likely to have been missed from the official dashboard count for the week to February 26.