Covid-19 infection rates have continued to fall in Scotland for the fifth week in a row. 

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that one in 25 Scots had the virus in the week ending April 23. 

This equates to an estimated 218,000 people in the country, a fall from an estimated 281,400 people in the previous week. 

It comes after the spread of Covid-19 driven by the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron reached a record high infection rate - with one in 11 returning a positive result in the week ending March 20. 

The latest figures include the first week where face coverings were no longer required by law in Scotland after the rules eased to guidance on April 18. 

England and Wales also recorded a drop in infections, but the trend in Northern Ireland remains "uncertain". 

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Across the UK, 2.9 million people in private households are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to April 23, down from 3.8m the previous week.

Infections across the UK also hit a weekly record in late March with an estimated 4.9m people believed to have had the virus. 

The latest survey from the ONS confirms that the surge driven by BA.2 is now receding, but the prevalence of the virus remains high by historic standards. 

In Scotland, the infection rates have decreased among older adults, with the percentage of over-70s infected with the virus lower than in England and Northern Ireland. 

However, the trend for infections was uncertain among young adults and children.

The figures come as the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in the UK is also on a clear downward trend, having peaked at around the same level that was reached during the first Omicron surge in January.

A total of 13,664 hospital patients were recorded in the UK on April 27, down 22% week-on-week.

Deaths involving Covid-19 are continuing to rise slowly, but remain well below the numbers seen during the first and second waves of the virus.

The ONS infection survey is the most reliable measure of the prevalence of Covid-19 in the UK.

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It uses a sample of swab tests collected regularly from tens of thousands of households, and is therefore able to estimate the percentage of people likely to test positive for coronavirus at any point in time, regardless of when they caught the virus, how many times they have had it and whether they have symptoms.

The survey is more representative of the level of Covid-19 in the UK than the number of cases announced each day by the Government, which includes only those who have reported themselves as testing positive, so it is affected by how many people are able to take a test or know they have symptoms.