More than 60,000 new Covid-19 infections are happening a week in England, according to official figures.
The number from the Covid-19 Infection Survey, being led by the Office for National Statistics, is far higher than the number of confirmed positive tests announced by the Government daily.
Boris Johnson stressed in the Commons on Wednesday that this figure had now fallen to 2,400 and the figures of positive tests from Public Health England suggest there is very little of the virus now in London.
However, the wider ONS study on infections in the community put the number of new cases a week at an estimated 61,000 across England.
The research also found at any given time between May 4 and May 17 the number of people on average infected with coronavirus was 137,000, or 0.25 per cent of the community population, down from 148,000 a week ago.
“The estimated number of people in England that had Covid-19 at any point in time during the two weeks from 4 May to 17 May is slightly less than the estimate we reported in our publication on Thursday 14 May, which covered the period 27 April to 10 May,” said the ONS.
“This change is relatively small and should be interpreted as showing that the number of people in England that have COVID-19 has stayed relatively stable.”
The figures also exclude infections in hospitals and care homes.
Estimating the infection level is highly complicated and the ONS said that while it was believed to be at 137,000, it could be as high as 208,000 or as low as 85,000.
The study found no evidence of differences in the proportions testing positive between men and women, or between the age categories two to 11, 12 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 69 and 70 years and over.
There was also no evidence of a difference between the proportions testing positive for patient-facing healthcare or resident-facing social care roles and people not working in these roles.
The findings were based on tests performed on 14,599 people in 7,054 households.
The analysis is part of a long-term study to track coronavirus in the general population, being done with Oxford University, Manchester University and Public Health England.