UK Covid cases rise by nearly 20% in a week | Coronavirus | The Guardian

Covid cases have risen almost 20% in a week, with one in 25 people in England thought to have had the disease at the end of June, official figures suggest, as a leading statistician said hospitalisations from the latest surge may be “topping off”.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, based on swabs collected from randomly selected households, an estimated 2.71 million people in the UK had Covid in the week ending 29-30 June, an 18% rise on the week before, when almost 2.3 million people had the virus.

In England alone, the most recent figures suggest about one in 25 people had a Covid infection in the last week of June, with the figure one in 17 in Scotland.

Further analysis revealed infection levels had risen across all regions of England, and all age groups.

“These increases are due to rises in infections with the Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, which have been dominant since mid-June,” said Sarah Crofts, the head of analytical outputs for the Covid-19 infection survey.

“Scotland continues to have the highest infection rate, although it has recently increased at a slower rate compared with other UK countries.”

The total number of people in hospital in England who had tested positive for Covid stood at 11,878 on Thursday, an increase of 33% from the week before, while an increase was also evident in the number of people in hospital primarily due to Covid, with 3,749 such patients in England alone as of 5 July.

Dr David Spiegelhalter said cases were still rising more broadly and that there was a “huge undercount” as testing was not taking place to the degree it had been.

Spiegelhalter described the ONS survey as one of the most reliable sources of data and, speaking ahead of the latest release, noted that last week’s figures showed more than 2 million people in the UK had the virus.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s high. It’s not as high as it had been – it went up to 8% this year – but I think we need to look at hospitalisations.”

“They have been rising steeping and they are nearly at the level of previous peaks this year. I think there are some indications that they may be topping off.”

About a quarter of those admitted to hospital were found to have caught it in hospital, he said, but he added that all needed extra care and this was feeding into the staffing problems in the NHS.

“Fortunately, there is no increase in those on ventilation. That doesn’t mean there are not some severe cases,” he added.

The latest figures are regarded as evidence of how the virus is becoming more prevalent, with the potential to add further pressure on hospital staff already trying to clear a record backlog of operations.

The rate of hospital admissions in England of people testing positive for Covid-19 stood at 14.6 per 100,000 last week, up from 11.1 the previous week, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Admissions to intensive care units (ICU) stood at 0.4 per 100,000, up from 0.3. Both figures are the highest since mid-April.

Health experts have warned the numbers are likely to carry on rising throughout July, driven by a “substantial amount” of waning immunity among older people.

Spiegelhalter said a trend was the increase in non-Covid excess deaths in hospitals – rather than in homes – and it was unclear why this was happening.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that there were 1,540 excess deaths in the week ending 24 June, although only about 10% were due to Covid-19.

“Some people are saying maybe this is the start of the impact of the measures against the pandemic and the disruption in healthcare and people’s use of healthcare,” said Spiegelhalter.

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