Since cases were tracked in May 2020 infections are now at their highest ever recorded level according to findings from the RACT-1 study.
Between 19 October and 29 October the study shows the increase in infections has been driven by school children with 1 in 17 children infected within the period.
As children return back to school researchers are warning that the next “ten days, is going to be really critical.”
The overall prevalence of covid was 1.72% across England, compared with 0.83% in September and the highest number of cases is 2.18% in the South West and Yorkshire and the Humber have the lowest.
This time last year scientists saw similar trends and cases started to soar once children started back at school after the half term.
Director of the React programme, Professor Paul Elliott, from Imperial College London said, “We do know that we saw a very, very similar pattern … at the same time last year, where over the half-term period the rates dropped and then actually they rebounded and went up again.
“So I think watching what happens in the next week, ten days, is going to be really critical.”
One viable hypothesis for the number of cases in the South West region could be down to mistakes at a private laboratory in Wolverhampton where thousands were wrongly told their test results were negative.