Covid cases in the UK have increased by 25% in a week amid concerns that a new wave of the disease is already underway.
Around 1.3 million people tested positive for the disease in the week ending September 26, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, an increase of 1.1m the week before.
Infections increased in England and Northern Ireland, but the trend is uncertain in Scotland and Wales, the ONS added.
It comes a day after separate figures released by the ONS said there were 2.3 million people in the UK living with chronic Covid – an increase of 300,000 cases on the previous reporting period.
Hospital admissions for Covid-19 are also on the rise. According to government figures, the number of people admitted to wards rose by 37 per cent in the past week.
A total of 9,631 people with coronavirus were in hospital at 8am on Wednesday, according to NHS England – the highest figure since August 3.
According to the NHS, most people who suffer from prolonged Covid recover within a few days or weeks and usually make a full recovery within 12 weeks.
However, for some, the symptoms may last longer.
Extreme tiredness or fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of smell and muscle pain are among some of the most commonly reported symptoms.
Of people with self-reported long Covid, 253,000 (13 percent) said they first had the virus less than 12 weeks earlier (or suspected they had), 1.7 million people (83 percent) at least 12 weeks earlier, 892,000 (45) per cent) at least one year earlier, and 429,000 (22 per cent) at least two years earlier.
As a proportion of the UK population, the prevalence of self-reported long Covid was greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years, women, people living in more deprived areas, those working in social care, those of 16 years or older who were not working and not looking for work, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability, the ONS said.
Covid cases have been relatively low throughout the summer months, but are starting to rise again.
According to the latest available official figures, they were up 14 percent.
Around 1.1 million people in private households tested positive for coronavirus in the latest ONS survey, which covers the seven days to September 17 in England and the week to September 20 in the other three nations.
Experts have warned that the country could face another “devastating” wave of the virus this fall, exacerbated by a drop in testing and inadequate surveillance of new immune-evasive subvariants.
Professor Tim Spector, co-founder of the Covid ZOE app, told The independent the United Kingdom was already at the beginning of the next wave of coronavirus.
“It looks like we’re at the start of the next wave and this time it’s affecting older people a bit earlier than the last wave,” Prof Spector said.
He added: “A lot of people are still using the government guidelines on symptoms which are wrong. At the moment Covid starts in two thirds of people with a sore throat. Fever and loss of smell are really rare now – so many old people might not think that they have Covid.
“They would say it’s a cold and not get tested.”