The Department of Health today published the next in the series of weekly results from its COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS).
The findings set out in this report relate to modelled positivity estimates for Northern Ireland for the week up to the 11 December 2021. The aims of the CIS are to estimate how many people have the infection and the number of new cases that occur over a given time as well as estimating how many people have developed antibodies to COVID-19.
The survey over time will help track the extent of infection and transmission of COVID-19 among people in the community population (those in private residences).
Due to the relatively small number of tests and positive swab results within our sample, credible intervals are wide and therefore results should be interpreted with caution.
- During the most recent week of the study (5 December – 11 December), it is estimated that 37,100 people in Northern Ireland had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 28,700 to 46,800).
- This equates to 2.02% of the population (95% credible interval: 1.56% to 2.55%) or around 1 in 50 people (95% credible interval 1 in 65 to 1 in 40).
- Modelling suggests the percentage of people testing positive decreased in the week ending 11th December in Northern Ireland.
- In the latest six-week period, there were 17,010 swab tests taken in total from 11,991 participants. Of these, 274 participants tested positive from 210 different households.
- In the latest two-week period, of the 5,276 participants in the study, 101 tested positive from 75 households.
The World Health Organization (WHO) have defined names for Variants of Concern. These are variants that the UK government has under surveillance. You can find out more in the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England briefing document (PDF, 2.51MB).
UK Variants of Concern:
- Alpha: B.1.1.7
- Beta: B.1.351
- Gamma: P.1
- Delta: B.1.617.2
- Omicron: B.1.1.529
Infections compatible with the Delta variant have been the most common since the end of May 2021 in England, and since the end of July 2021 in all four UK countries. The most recent results show over 99% of all coronavirus (COVID-19) infections, where a genetic sequence could be obtained, were genetically compatible with the Delta variant or its descendants.
The Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) of COVID-19 has changes in one of the three genes that coronavirus swab tests detect, known as the S-gene. This means in cases compatible with the Omicron variant, the S-gene is no longer detected by the current test. When there is a high viral load (for example, when a person is most infectious) absence of the S-gene in combination with the presence of the other two genes (ORF1ab and N-genes) is a reliable indicator of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529). However, as the viral load decreases (for example, if someone is near the end of their recovery from the infection), the absence of the S-gene is a less reliable indicator of the Omicron variant.
In the week ending 11 December 2021, the percentage of cases compatible with the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) has increased in England and Scotland, and there were early signs of an increase in Wales. Estimates for Northern Ireland are not available as there is not enough data to provide a breakdown of positivity by variant at this stage.
Infections by variant will continue to be monitored and the charts and analysis will be introduced when considered helpful.
Notes to editors:
- The Department of Health has been working along with the Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency and the Office for National Statistics (and its various survey partners) to extend the COVID-19 Infection Survey to Northern Ireland. Fieldwork in Northern Ireland began on 27 July 2020.
- All results are provisional and subject to revision. Due to relatively small number of tests and positive swab tests within the sample, credible intervals are wide and therefore results should be interpreted with caution.
- These statistics refer to infections reported in the community (i.e. private households). These figures exclude infections reported in hospitals, care homes and/or other institutional settings.
- Estimates of the total national proportion of the population testing positive for COVID-19 are adjusted to be representative of the population of Northern Ireland that live in private residential households in terms of age, sex and region.
- Weekly reports are to be published with findings from the COVID-19 Infection survey. It is anticipated that new and further analyses will be added to the weekly reports over time.
- Further information about quality and methodology associated with the survey can be found on the ONS website.
- This publication is available online.
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