Covid-19 patient levels rise but deaths remain low
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is continuing to show signs of a rise, though levels remain well below the peaks reached in previous waves of the virus.
Some 5,726 patients in England had Covid-19 on June 20, up 24% on the previous week, Government figures show.
In Wales, 295 patients were recorded on June 17, the latest date available, up 20%.
Hospital numbers in both nations had previously been on a steady downwards trend since early April, following the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave of infections.
The rise is likely to be driven by the spread of the latest Omicron variants, BA.4 and BA.5, which are now thought to be the dominant strains in much of the UK.
The 5,726 patients with Covid-19 in England is around a third of the level reached at the peak of BA.2 wave.
A majority of patients who test positive for Covid-19 are in hospital to be treated primarily for something else rather than the virus.
But the increase in positive tests is fresh evidence that Covid is once again becoming more prevalent across the country.
Figures published last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed infections were estimated to have risen in all four nations of the UK and were back to levels last seen at the start of May.
The number of suspected outbreaks of the virus is also the highest since the beginning of last month.
Staff absences at hospitals in England – another measure of the impact of the virus – were up in the first week of June, according to the latest data from NHS England.
Separate ONS figures published on Tuesday showed that 284 deaths involving coronavirus were registered in England and Wales in the week to June 10, up from 186 the previous week.
While this is the first increase in six weeks, it will include a backlog of deaths that needed to be registered following the Jubilee bank holidays on June 2 and 3, when most council offices were closed.
Death registrations are not likely to show any clear impact from the current rise in infections for several weeks, given the time it takes someone with the virus to become seriously ill.
Weekly registrations in England and Wales peaked at 1,125 in April this year following the Omicron BA.2 surge, and 1,484 in January after the original Omicron wave.
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