COVID-19 prevalence in England drops sharply in latest week - ONS

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Surge testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lambeth and Clapham areas of London

LONDON (Reuters) - The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England dropped sharply to its lowest level since September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday.

There were 1 in 480 people infected in the week ending April 10, according to the latest figures, down from 1 in 340 infected the week before.

The estimated 0.21% of the population that had the coronavirus was the lowest level since the week ending September 24, 2020.

"Our modelling suggests that the percentage of people testing positive in England decreased in the week ending 10 April 2021," the ONS said.

The drop in prevalence in England followed a slight rise in estimated infections last week, as a sharp fall in cases which followed the start of England's third lockdown in January had levelled off in recent weeks.

The latest reported drop in infection levels did not capture the impact of the reopening of pub gardens and shops in England on April 12. The ONS Infection Survey is a widely watched estimate of the COVID-19 infection levels in the community populations of the United Kingdom.

The ONS said it estimated infections had fallen in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as England.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Michael Holden)