Growth of Covid infections across the country is ‘slowing’, UK’s leading statistician says 

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The growth of coronavirus infections in Britain is slowing down, according to the country’s top statistician.  

Professor Sir Ian Diamond says that while there remains an increase in the number of Covid cases, the data shows a ‘slowdown in the rate of growth’, providing a small ray of hope for an end to harsh countrywide restrictions. 

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that Britain is in the grip of a second wave spurred on by teenagers and young adults – who are also starting to see a drop in the rate of infections.

Sir Ian, head of the Office for National Statistics, said: ‘The good news is – yes – we are seeing a slow down in the rate of growth.

‘That means we’re still increasing and we are now in England at 1.25 per 1,000. That means that one in 85 people in England, we believe, have the virus.

‘In Wales, a little less at one in 100, in Scotland one in 135 and Northern Ireland one in 105. So yes we are continuing to increase the numbers, but the rate of growth is slowing.’  

Professor Sir Ian Diamond says that while there remains an increase in the number of Covid cases, the data shows a 'slowdown in the rate of growth', providing a small ray of hope for an end to harsh countrywide restrictions

Professor Sir Ian Diamond says that while there remains an increase in the number of Covid cases, the data shows a ‘slowdown in the rate of growth’, providing a small ray of hope for an end to harsh countrywide restrictions

Sir Ian said that the Government is committed to ‘openness and transparency’ with how data on coronavirus is presented to the public.

He said that his colleagues were embedded into the ‘heart’ of Government to ensure data presented to the public was at the highest level.

It follows criticism of how figures have been used during the pandemic, with the official statistics watchdog warning ministers and advisers not to use data in ways which can ‘confuse’ the public.

When asked if data had been selected by the Government in order to back up arguments, Sir Ian told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday that this was a view he did not support.

‘During the first wave, some of my colleagues were embedded into the heart of Government to make sure that the quality of the presentations that were made to the public were at the highest level, and I think that’s incredibly important,’ he said.

Sir Ian (pictured) said the Government is committed to 'openness and transparency' with how data on coronavirus is presented

Sir Ian (pictured) said the Government is committed to ‘openness and transparency’ with how data on coronavirus is presented

‘My experience and my conversations throughout this pandemic with Government has been a real wish, right across Government, for openness and for transparency.

‘Some of my colleagues will now be going back into the heart of Government, really to work on making sure that the communication of statistics, the graphs you may see, are at the highest possible level.’

On concerns about how data was being presented during the second wave, Sir Ian said: ‘We at the ONS have been really working tirelessly to make sure that openness and transparency is at the heart of what we do.

‘We have a real policy at ONS that we only talk about data which are in the public domain, and I know that that commitment to openness and transparency goes right across Government.’

Ministers faced criticism earlier this month after it emerged key projections for hospital admissions and deaths presented at a Downing Street press conference contained errors.

Top-end projections at the briefing on October 31, suggesting that daily hospital admissions in England could reach nearly 9,000 by early December while daily deaths could hit 1,400, were both revised downwards.

The disclosure came after Tory MPs, led by former prime minister Theresa May, strongly criticised the way the Government used data to justify a second national lockdown in England.

However, ministers have maintained that it was the right decision, saying the NHS faced being overwhelmed if action was not taken to curb the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) said there was a danger that confidence in official figures will be undermined if they are issued without ‘appropriate explanations of context and sources’.

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