Coronavirus: Majority testing positive have no symptoms

woman in visor and surgical gloves giving thumbs up to person in carImage copyright
Getty Images

Only 22% of people testing positive for coronavirus reported having symptoms on the day of their test, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This hammers home the importance of “asymptomatic transmission” – spread of the virus by people who aren’t aware they’re carrying it.

Health and social care staff appeared to be more likely to test positive.

This comes as deaths from all causes in the UK fell to below the average for the second week in a row.

While the ONS survey includes relatively small numbers of positive swab tests (120 infections in all) making it hard to make any strong conclusions about who is most likely to be infected, there are some patterns coming through in the data:

  • Those in people-facing health or social care roles, and working outside their homes in general, were more likely to have a positive test.
  • People from ethnic minority backgrounds were more likely to have a positive antibody test, suggesting a past infection.
  • White people were the least likely proportionally to test positive for antibodies.
  • There was also some evidence that people living in larger households were more likely to test positive than those in smaller households.

Although men are more likely to die from coronavirus than women, this study did not find a difference in how likely they were to contract the infection.

The figures are based on tests of people selected at random in homes in England – people living in care homes or other institutions are not included in this study.

Some people testing positive without symptoms might go on to develop symptoms, or they may have already had symptoms and cleared them.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

While 22% in the study reported symptoms on the day, a larger group – a third (33%) of people testing positive for coronavirus – reported having symptoms either on the day of their test or at their previous or subsequent test.

This group includes “pre-symptomatic” people as well as “asymptomatic”- those who will never develop noticeable symptoms.

Meanwhile, weekly deaths in the UK are slightly below average for this time of year with 10,267 registered in the week of 26 June, and lower than the week before, figures show.

There were 651 deaths registered mentioning Covid-19 which remains above the number registered the week lockdown was announced (607).