Cases of coronavirus are on the rise again in the UK, with hospital infections in England increasing by more than a third in a week.
One in 65 people in England – equal to more than 850,000 people – is estimated to have Covid-19 in the week ending September 17, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This estimate was a rise from the previous week’s figure of one in 70 people – about 766,500 people, based on figures extrapolated from nose and throat swabs from a smaller group across the country. This is comparable to a summer peak of 3.1 million as a result of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
While the trend in Scotland and Northern Ireland is unclear, there is also believed to have been a rise in infections in Wales, where one in 50 people contracted the virus that week.
In England, the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 increased in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, the West Midlands, the East of England, London and the South East, while the trend was uncertain in all other English regions, said the US.
Although it is considered less accurate because significantly fewer people are testing themselves for the virus and sharing their results with the government than at the height of the pandemic, official testing data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggests that the areas with the highest infection rates are geographically diverse.
Plymouth currently has the highest infection rate, according to UKHSA figures, with 143 per 100,000 people testing positive for the virus in the week to October 1.
It was followed by Gateshead, North Somerset, the Isle of Wight, Northumberland, Dorset and York – which had infection rates ranging from 141 and 124 people per 100,000.
Meanwhile, the number of people with coronavirus in hospital in England hit 9,631 in the week to Wednesday, an increase of 37 percent on the previous seven days and the highest figure in two months. The true number is likely to be higher, as asymptomatic testing in NHS settings was suspended from 31 August.
In the South West, hospital admission rates have increased by 250 per cent since mid-September, increasing to 16 per 100,000 people in the last week.
The region currently has 1,003 patients who have tested positive, close to the peak seen this summer in the wave of infections driven by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which the numbers of the national hospital in mid-July above 14,000 ensured.
The latest figures show that all regions in England are recording a steady rise in patients, with three regions returning to levels last seen in late July – however all remain well below those seen at the peak of the pandemic.
The latest increases are “concerning” and case and hospitalization rates are at their “highest level in months”, said Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UKHSA.
“Outbreaks in hospitals and care homes are also on the rise,” Dr Hopkins added. “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.”
Here are the 20 areas with the highest infection rates in the UK, according to test data published by the UKHSA, covering the week to October 1:
Local authorities | Number of cases | Infection rate (per 100,000 people)
- Plymouth – 376 – 143
- Gateshead – 286 – 141
- North Somerset – 282 – 130
- Isle of Wight – 182 – 127
- Northumberland – 413 – 127
- Dorset – 477 – 125
- York – 262 – 124
- East Riding of Yorkshire – 426 – 124
- hampshire – 1.701 – 122
- Devon – 989 – 122
- Nottinghamshire – 1.009 – 121
- Stoke-on-Trent – 308 – 120
- Torbay – 162 – 118
- Doncaster – 372 – 118
- East Sussex – 660 – 118
- Cheshire East – 453 – 117
- Derbyshire – 943 – 116
- Southampton – 292 – 115
- Lincolnshire – 881 – 115
- Staffordshire – 1.009 – 114