There are now more Covid-19 hospital patients in both regions of northern England than at the peak of the first wave of the virus, latest figures show.
In north-west England, 2,948 hospital patients with confirmed Covid-19 were reported on November 9.
This is 58 higher than the first-wave peak of 2,890 on April 13.
In north-east England and Yorkshire, 2,999 patients were reported on November 9 – 432 above the first-wave peak of 2,567 on April 9.
Together, both regions currently account for 52% of Covid-19 hospital patients in England.
They are the only regions so far to have passed their first-wave peak, though other areas appear to be heading in the same direction.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said hospitals in the region were experiencing “quite a lot of pressure” and that was expected to increase in coming weeks, although infection rates in the area had started to come down.
He said: “Although there are the first signs perhaps that we may have seen the peak of the second wave with regard to the number of new infections in the community, I think it’s important for me to say it doesn’t yet appear we have reached the peak in terms of pressure on our hospitals and that is more likely to be felt towards the later part of this month.”
Speaking at an online press conference on Wednesday, Mr Burnham said: “Because of treatments that are available now it would appear people are tending to spend longer in hospital if they have Covid and that is one of the things that is creating that extra pressure on the system.
“Difficult as it is, the system is coping with the pressure and we are hoping that, while the next two to three weeks will probably be the period of most pressure on our hospitals and our ambulance service, we might begin to see a reduction in that pressure as we go into the early part of December. It remains a very challenging picture indeed.”
He said intensive care capacity in Greater Manchester hospitals was at 78.9% earlier this week after more intensive care beds were made available.
In south-west England, the number of hospital patients has jumped sharply in the last two weeks, more than doubling from 300 on October 26 to 667 on November 9.
If this trend continues, south-west England could pass its first-wave peak of 840 within a week or so.
In the Midlands, the number of patients is also rising rapidly and has roughly doubled in the past two weeks – from 1,203 on October 26 to 2,388 on November 9.
The first-wave peak in the Midlands was 3,101.
In other regions of England the numbers are rising at a slower pace.
In London, 1,078 patients were reported on November 9. This is still far below the first-wave peak of 4,813.
In south-east England, 849 patients were reported on November 9. The first-wave peak in this region was 2,073.
In eastern England, 591 hospital patients were reported on November 9 – some way below the first-wave peak of 1,484.
All figures are taken from the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.