Covid cases are beginning to rise following a six-week decline as pupils return to school and people spend more time indoors, according to the Zoe Covid study app.
Daily infections have increased from 101,600 on August 27 to 144,813 on Monday - a jump of 42 per cent in three weeks.
Tim Spector, the King’s College London professor who runs the Zoe app, told the newspaper that he believed daily infections would rise to around 600,000-650,000 cases a day by the end of October or early November.
“The last few days have really accelerated with R now going above 1. I don’t know why for sure. But there is a natural cycle of these viruses – they wait for getting more susceptible people again,” he said.
“So I guess it’s the number of susceptible people plus the colder weather and schools going back, meaning people are inside more. That will spark it off.”
London’s infection rate remains relatively stable according to the most recent data published by the Government, with 257 cases recorded on September 14 – a decline of 68 per cent on the week before. However, the most recent data for the past week has not yet been released.
Hospital admissions due to the virus in London have seen a slight uptick, with 82 patients admitted on September 19 – a rise of 41 per cent in a week. However, it remains significantly below the summer peak of 330 admissions on July 7 and the 511 admissions on December 29 last year at the height of the Omicron wave.
There is usually a two-week lag between rising infections and a spike in hospital admissions.
Health experts hope that a successful booster vaccination campaign will stem the pressure on the NHS from Covid as it seeks to deal with a record backlog in care.
Statistics released on Thursday show that one in six over-80s have now received their autumn booster vaccine.
Some 16.2 per cent of those aged 80 and over - nearly half a million people - are estimated to have had the jab by September 18, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
A similar proportion (16.0 per cent) of 75 to 79-year-olds have also received the booster, along with around one in 15 (6.6 per cent) of people aged 70 to 74.
Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, said that the NHS could be facing a very tough winter with record waits for A&E and ambulance delays.
Asked at a briefing on winter pressures how bad it would be on a scale of one to 10, he said: “My answer would be 10.
“The NHS is already under a lot of pressure.”