Publication - Statistics

Coronavirus (COVID-19): ONS Infection Survey – characteristics data for Scotland – 17 November 2021

Published: 17 Nov 2021

Characteristics data from the ONS COVID-19 infection survey published on 17 November 2021.

Published:
17 Nov 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19): ONS Infection Survey – characteristics data for Scotland – 17 November 2021

ONS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey – Characteristics Data for Scotland – 17 November 2021

The article is based on findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) COVID-19 Infection Survey.

The COVID-19 Infection Survey aims to measure:

  • how many people test positive for COVID-19 infection at a given point in time, regardless of whether they report experiencing coronavirus symptoms
  • the average number of new infections per week over the course of the study
  • the number of people who test positive for antibodies, to indicate how many people are ever likely to have had the infection or have been vaccinated

The results are for private households only, and do not apply to those in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings. The population used in this analysis relates to the community population aged two years and over.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publish analysis of the characteristics of those testing positive for COVID-19 in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the UK on their website.

The underlying data displayed in the charts in this publication is available in the reference tables on the ONS website.

Main points

Although physical contacts that adult respondents in Scotland have reported have increased since early March, and socially distanced contacts follow a similar trend, there does not appear to be a large increase in the number of physical and socially distanced contacts corresponding to the lifting of most restrictions in Scotland in mid-August. In the latest two weeks to 30 October, there was a decrease in contacts children reported with those under-18, corresponding to the mid-term holidays in schools.

Physical contacts that school age respondents in Scotland have reported have also increased since March, with a dip in mid-April and in early July, corresponding with the school holidays. In the two weeks to 4 September, there was an increase in contacts children reported with those under 18. This corresponds to schools opening in mid-August. Socially distanced contacts that school age children have reported follow a similar trend.

Socially distanced and physical contacts - Scotland

This analysis looks at how often individuals are reporting social contact with other people outside their own household, either socially distanced or physical contact. As part of survey visits, individuals were asked how many people outside their household, aged 17 years and under, 18 to 69 years, and 70 years and over, they had had contact with up to seven days prior to each study visit.

Contact refers to either of the following:

  • socially distanced contact – direct contact with social distancing only
  • physical contact – physical contact, such as a handshake or personal care, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)

In this article, fortnightly estimates are available for the time period between 17 October 2021 and 30 October 2021. Data on socially distanced and physical contacts for Scotland was previously presented on 21 October 2021.

Estimates have been weighted to be representative of the total population in Scotland. Analysis includes all people taking part in the survey. The survey only includes those in the community population. Contact analysis is presented for school-age children (age two years to school year S4) and adults (school year S5 and above).

The number of contacts is reported in the following groups:

  • 0 (no reported contacts)
  • 1 to 5 (reported contacts)
  • 6 to 10 (reported contacts)
  • 11 to 20 (reported contacts)
  • 21 or more (reported contacts)

School-age children

The proportions of school-age children reporting each category of number of physical and socially distanced contacts are shown in Figures 1 and 2 respectively.

Physical contacts that school age respondents in Scotland have reported have increased since March, with a dip in mid-April and in early July, corresponding with the school holidays. In the two weeks to 4 September, there was an increase in contacts children reported with those under 18. This corresponds to schools opening in mid-August. In the latest two weeks to 30 October, there was a decrease in contacts children reported with those under-18, corresponding to the mid-term holidays in schools. Children appear to have consistently had more physical contacts with those under 18 than with those aged 18-69 or over 70s. Socially distanced contacts that school age children have reported follow a similar trend.

In Figures 1 to 4, each bar represents one two-week period, denoted by the end date of that period. For example, 30 October 2021 denotes the estimate relating to 17 October to 30 October 2021.

Figure 1: Proportion of school-age children by number of physical contacts with different age groups, from 20 September 2020 to 30 October 2021

The proportions of school-age children reporting each category of number of physical contacts (0, 1 to 5, 6 to 10, 11 to 20, and 21 or more contacts) is shown in Figure 1.  Children appear to have consistently had more physical contacts with those under 18 than with those aged 18-69 or over 70s.  Each bar represents one two-week period, denoted by the end date of that period. For example, 30 October 2021 denotes the estimate relating to 17 October to 30 October 2021.

Figure 2: Proportion of school-age children by number of socially distanced contacts with different age groups, from 20 September 2020 to 30 October 2021

The proportions of school-age children reporting each category of number of socially distanced contacts (0, 1 to 5, 6 to 10, 11 to 20, and 21 or more contacts) is shown in Figure 2.  Children appear to have consistently had more socially distanced contacts with those under 18 than with those aged 18-69 or over 70s.  Each bar represents one two-week period, denoted by the end date of that period. For example, 30 October 2021 denotes the estimate relating to 17 October to 30 October 2021.Adults

The proportions of adults reporting each category of number of physical and socially distanced contacts are shown in Figures 3 and 4 respectively.

Although physical contacts that adult respondents in Scotland have reported has increased since early March, there does not appear to be a large increase in the number of physical contacts corresponding to the lifting of most restrictions in Scotland in mid-August. Adults appear to have consistently more physical contacts with those aged 18-69 than with under 18s or over 70s. The number of socially distanced contacts reported by adults follows a similar trend.

Figure 3: Proportion of adults by number of physical contacts with different age groups, from 20 September 2020 to 30 October 2021

The proportions of adults reporting each category of number of physical contacts (0, 1 to 5, 6 to 10, 11 to 20, and 21 or more contacts) is shown in Figure 3.  Adults appear to have consistently more physical contacts with those aged 18-69 than with under 18s or over 70s.  Each bar represents one two-week period, denoted by the end date of that period. For example, 30 October 2021 denotes the estimate relating to 17 October to 30 October 2021.

Figure 4: Proportion of adults by number of socially distanced contacts with different age groups, from 20 September 2020 to 30 October 2021

Methodology and further information

1. The population relates to the community population (private households) aged two years and over, and does not include people in hospital, care homes or students in halls of residence, where rates of COVID-19 infection are likely to be different.

2. Because of the relatively small number of tests and a low number of positives in the sample, confidence intervals are wide and therefore results should be interpreted with caution.

3. SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name given to the specific virus that causes COVID-19.

4. Estimates are provided with 95% confidence intervals to indicate the level of uncertainty around them. A confidence interval gives an indication of the degree of uncertainty of an estimate, showing the precision of a sample estimate. The 95% confidence intervals are calculated so that if we repeated the study many times, 95% of the time the true unknown value would lie between the lower and upper confidence limits. A wider interval indicates more uncertainty in the estimate.

5. Please note that the sampling method used in Northern Ireland is different to the other nations, inviting only people who have previously participated in a Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) survey, which could result in a sample of individuals who are less likely to report symptoms.

The full article published by the Office for National Statistics on 17 November 2021, which includes data for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, can be accessed on the ONS website. The full article also includes analysis on reported symptoms across the UK.

More information about the COVID-19 Infection Survey in Scotland can be found on the information page on the Scottish Government website, and previous COVID-19 Infection Survey data for Scotland can be found in this collection.