COVID-19 infection rates are rising in Scotland and England, according to new figures.

One in 24 people are expected to have tested positive for the virus in mid-December, up from one in 50 at the start of the month, and one in 66 on November 14.

The data comes from a new Covid-19 surveillance program for Scotland and England, run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

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It is a smaller version of the UK-wide infection survey that ran for nearly three years, which tracked each wave of the virus on a weekly basis.

Publishing data every fortnight, the new program collects data from around 150,000 individuals, with participants asked to perform a Covid-19 test during one seven-day period every month and report the results to the ONS.

Estimates of infection levels in the new study cannot be compared with figures from the previous survey as the two studies use different methods of testing and compiling the data.

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Professor Steven Riley, UKHSA director-general for data and surveillance, said: “At this time of year, the cold weather, shorter days and increased socialising mean that the potential for transmission of respiratory viruses like Covid-19 is particularly high.  

“This, as well as the possible impact of new variants, means it’s not unexpected to see cases increasing.  

“If you are showing symptoms of Covid-19 or other respiratory illnesses, you should try to limit your contact with other people as much as possible, especially those who are older or more vulnerable.”