Hospital patients with Covid-19 in England up more than a third in a week
The number of people in hospital in England who have tested positive for Covid-19 has jumped by more than a third in a week, in fresh evidence of the growing prevalence of the virus.
Some 7,822 patients in England had coronavirus on June 27, up 37% on the previous week, NHS figures show.
It is the highest total for nearly two months but is still some way below the peak of 16,600 patients during the Omicron BA.2 wave of infections earlier in the year.
The latest wave is being driven by the newer variants BA.4 and BA.5, which now make up more than half of all new Covid-19 cases in England.
Research published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggests BA.5 is growing approximately 35% faster than BA.2 while BA.4 is growing 19% faster – meaning it is likely that BA.5 will soon become the dominant Covid-19 variant in the country.
There is “currently no evidence” the two variants cause more serious illness than previous variants, however.
Professor Susan Hopkins, UKHSA chief medical adviser, said: “It is clear that the increasing prevalence of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are significantly increasing the case numbers we have observed in recent weeks.
“We have seen a rise in hospital admissions in line with community infections but vaccinations are continuing to keep ICU admissions and deaths at low levels.
“Our data also show that 17.5% of people aged 75 years and over have not had a vaccine within the past six months, putting them more at risk of severe disease. We urge these people in particular to get up to date.”
Most hospital patients who test positive for Covid-19 are being treated primarily for something else, rather than the virus.
But they will need to be kept isolated from those patients who do not have Covid, putting extra pressure on hospital staff.
The number of people in hospital with the virus is now on an upwards trend in most parts of the country.
In Scotland, 948 patients were recorded on June 19, the latest date available, up 27% from the previous week.
Wales has seen patients jump 41% week-on-week, reaching 417 on June 24.
The trend in Northern Ireland is uncertain, with numbers rising in early June before levelling off in recent days between 320 and 340.
Figures published last week by the Office for National Statistics showed an estimated 1.7 million people in private households in the UK had Covid-19 in the week to June 18, up 23% from 1.4 million a week earlier.
The rise of 23% is lower than the 43% jump in the previous week’s figures, but it means total infections are now at levels last seen at the end of April.
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