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Covid: hospitalisations show ‘autumn wave’ under way

Pa
Friday, Sep 30, 2022

LONDON: The number of hospital patients in England testing positive for Covid-19 is now on a clear upwards trend, in the latest sign a new wave of infections is under way.

A total of 7,024 people with coronavirus were in hospital as of 8am on September 28, according to NHS England. This is up 37 per cent from 5,142 a week earlier and is the highest figure since August 19.

Patient levels topped 14,000 in mid-July at the peak of the wave of infections caused by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the virus, after which they started to fall steadily. But this decline came to a halt in mid-September.

Covid-19 hospital data is currently published only once a week, on a Thursday.

The latest figures show that all regions are recording a rise in patients, with south-west England back to levels last seen at the end of July.

Numbers remain well below those reached during the early waves of the pandemic, however.

Separate figures published last week by the Office for National Statistics showed that Covid-19 infections in England had increased for the first time since July.

Some 766,500 people in private households were estimated to have tested positive for coronavirus in the week to September 14, or around one in 70 – up from 705,800, or one in 75, in the previous week.

More recent data from the ZOE Health Study, which is based on symptoms reported by volunteers across the country, suggests that an average of one in 32 people in the UK were likely to have symptomatic Covid-19 at the start of this week, with rates rising in all age groups.

Professor Tim Spector, co-founder of the ZOE study, said: “It’s clear we’re now seeing an autumn wave of Covid-19, combined with increases in hospital admissions.

“With rates on the rise, especially in the vulnerable elderly age groups, the impact on hospitalisations could be higher.

“However, the youngest age group are showing possible early signs of case numbers slowing. Children tend to be a leader of infection trends, so if this continues next week it is possible that the Covid wave might not be as bad as previously predicted.”

All people aged 65 and over are currently eligible for an autumn booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine, providing they had their last jab at least three months ago.

Doses are also available to frontline health and care workers, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system.

A booster will eventually be offered to everyone aged 50 and over.

NHS director for vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said: “This winter could be the first time we see the effects of the so-called ‘twindemic’ with both Covid-19 and flu in full circulation, so it is vital that those most susceptible to serious illness from these viruses come forward for vaccines in order to protect themselves and those around them.

“If you have been offered a flu vaccination or Covid-19 booster you should book in as soon as possible and with more vaccination centres than ever before this year, they are quick, convenient and will provide vital protection this winter.”