May 14, 2020 / 1:33 PM / 19 days ago

Around 148,000 people in England had coronavirus recently: estimate

A woman is seen wearing a protective face mask in Vauxhall following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Around 148,000 people in England had COVID-19 in recent weeks, according to results on Thursday from a large-scale study in Britain into the spread of the disease.

The Office for National Statistics said it estimated that about 0.27% of England’s population were carrying the disease during the April 27 to May 10 survey period - slightly higher than an estimate of 0.24% published on Monday.

But there is a wide range of uncertainty around the true number of people infected, which the ONS said could range from 94,000 to 222,000 at a standard 95% confidence interval.

The estimate was based on swab tests performed on 10,705 people across 5,276 households, rather than in hospitals or care homes, the Office for National Statistics said.

England is slowly starting to ease coronavirus restrictions - including encouraging more people to return to work - but like many countries has said it needs to ensure this does not accelerate the spread of the disease.

More than 40,000 people in the United Kingdom have died with suspected COVID-19, the highest official toll in Europe.

While the disease caused by the novel coronavirus hits older people hardest, the survey found there was little difference between age groups in terms of the spread of the virus.

The ONS survey was conducted with the University of Oxford, the University of Manchester, Public Health England and Wellcome Trust.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Stephen Addison

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