The level of Covid infection continues to rise in England, with more than 1.1 million people thought to have had the virus in the last week, data has revealed.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, based on swabs from randomly selected households, around one in 50 people in England – 2% of the population – had Covid in the week ending September 24, an increase of one at 65 the week before.
Increases were seen in all parts of England in the last week, with the highest levels in the North East, at around one in 40 people. Infection rates were greatest in those aged 70 and over, also in about one in 40 people, and increased in children aged two to school year 6 (ages 10-11), and in adults aged 35 and over.
While infection levels have also increased in Northern Ireland in the last week, the trend in Scotland and Wales is unclear.
Sarah Crofts, the deputy director for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said infection levels in England had reached the latest seen in mid-August.
“Below the 70s there has been a marked increase in infections in England this week, a trend we will be monitoring closely as the winter months progress,” she said.
A report released on Thursday by the UK Health Security Agency revealed other signs that England was experiencing a new wave of Covid, with hospitalization rates in the south west increasing by 250% since mid-September.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser at the UKHSA, urged people to take individual action to limit the spread of Covid – including wearing face coverings.
“This week’s data shows further increases in Covid-19 cases and hospitalization rates, which are now at their highest levels in months. Outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes are also on the rise,” she said.
“Make sure you have the Covid-19 vaccinations you are eligible for and avoid contact with others if you are unwell or have symptoms of a respiratory infection.
“If you are unwell, it is especially important to avoid contact with elderly people or those who are more likely to have serious illness due to their ongoing health conditions.
“If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, wearing a face covering will also help stop infections.”