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 NI for the week up to the 6 July 2022. 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 residential households).
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 (30 June– 6 July 2022), it is estimated that 107,600 people in Northern Ireland had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 86,900 to 129,700).
- This equates to 5.86% of the population (95% credible interval: 4.73% to 7.07%) or around 1 in 17 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 20 to 1 in 14).
- Modelling suggests the percentage of people testing positive continued to increase in the week ending 6 July in Northern Ireland.
- The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 continued to increase across all age groups in recent weeks.
- In the latest six-week period, there were 10,711 swab tests taken in total from 9,735 participants. Of these, 385 participants tested positive from 311 different households.
- In the latest two-week period, of the 3,201 participants in the study, 177 tested positive from 141 households.
The World Health Organization (WHO) have defined names for variants of concern.
Currently, the variants under surveillance in the UK are:
- Omicron, including sublineages BA.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4 and BA.5
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey: technical dataset includes weekly analysis of the genetic lineages of coronavirus seen in the samples that are sequenced. Of the COVID-19 positives successfully sequenced, in the latest week available (week ending 26 June 2022) 42.8% were Omicron BA.5, 37.6% were Omicron BA.2, 17.8% were Omicron BA.4 and there were no Omicron BA.1 (or its sub-lineages) sequences identified.
The genome sequencing analysis shows that almost all infections where the S-gene is not detected are now Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5. For this reason, cases with gene patterns ORF1ab + N are now labelled as "compatible with Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants" in the main variant analysis, although other variants such as Omicron BA.1 may still be having a very small impact. The main variant analysis is not directly comparable with the sequence data. It measures the percentage of the population with a positive test compatible with the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants or the BA.2 variant.
The Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 have changes in one of the three genes that the coronavirus survey swab test detects, which means the S-gene is no longer detected. When there is a high viral load (for example, when a person is most infectious), not detecting the S-gene in combination with detecting the other two genes (ORF1ab and N-genes) is a reliable indicator of the Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5. However, as the viral load decreases (for example, if someone is near the end of their recovery from the infection), not detecting the S-gene is a less reliable indicator of these Omicron variants.
The Omicron variant BA.2 does not have changes in the S gene, and therefore all three genes, or the S-gene and either ORF1ab or N, will usually be detected in infections with this variant.
More information on how variants from positive tests on the survey are measured can be found in the ONS Understanding COVID-19 Variants blog and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey methods article provides more detail about how the virus' genetic material is sequenced.
The last published main variant analysis was included in COVID-19 Infection Survey, Northern Ireland: Weekly Report 8 July 2022. This showed a very high proportion of infections compatible with the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, so a breakdown of infections by variants is not included in this release. Infections by variant will continued to be monitored and analysis will be reintroduced 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 communal establishments.
- 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.https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/methodologies/covid19infectionsurveypilotmethodsandfurtherinformation#covid-19-infection-survey
- This publication is available online
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- Coronavirus (Covid-19) Infection Survey – Antibody Data for Northern Ireland 10 August 2022
- Coronavirus (Covid-19) Infection Survey, Northern Ireland: Weekly Report 05 August 2022
- Release of Northern Ireland inpatient, day case and outpatient hospital statistics for 2021/22 04 August 2022
- Coronavirus (Covid-19) Infection Survey, Northern Ireland: Weekly Report 29 July 2022