Covid deaths up 16% in England as hospital admissions hit highest rate since February
The rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England has risen to its highest level since February, new figures show.
The number of people dying from the virus is also up 16 per cent compared with the previous week, according to government data, although cases are falling.
In the week to 24 October, the level of coronavirus admissions stood at 8.4 per 100,000 people, UK Health Security Agency (HSA) figures showed. That was up from 7.5 the previous week, according to the HSA’s weekly Covid surveillance report.
It is the highest rate of admission since the week to 21 February, when the UK was struggling with a Covid wave that was killing around 500 people a day.
The West Midlands was the part of the country with the highest rate.
Separate figures released by the government showed a further 165 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 140,206. That put the seven-day total for deaths up 16.2 per cent compared with the previous week.
Watch: Coronavirus in numbers: UK reports 165 more deaths
And as of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 39,842 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the government said. This meant cases reported between 22 and 28 October were down 9.8 per cent compared with the previous seven days.
The figures came as Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned the UK remains in a “very uncertain phase” of the pandemic.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Patrick said the country must be prepared to clamp down in order to reduce the virus’ spread.
He said: “There is considerable uncertainty into which direction this goes. It’s wrong to think that the build-up of immunity is an all or nothing – it’s a sort of protective barrier that will reduce the spread of the virus so we need to monitor this carefully over the next weeks and months.
“You need to absolutely be prepared [for ‘plan B’] and as soon as you start thinking, ‘Am I, or am I not going to do this? It looks close,’ is the time you need to push beyond your natural reluctance to do it and do it.
“This is obviously something the government will have to consider carefully but we need to be ready to move fast if that occurs.”
Rates of new cases of Covid among schoolchildren in England have fallen slightly in the last week, the HSA data showed, although cases remain highest in those aged 10 to 19 years old.
But case rates are continuing to rise in all age groups. For 40- to 49-year-olds, the latest rate is 592.7 per 100,000 people, the highest since the start of January, while rates for age groups between 50 and 79 are now at their highest since mid-January.
There is a rough east-west split in regional case rates, the figures show. In northeast England, eastern England, London and the southeast, rates have increased week-on-week. All other regions have recorded a fall.
Southwest England has the highest rate, at 665.9 cases per 100,000 people, though this is down slightly week-on-week from 682.6.
Watch: COVID-19: Vaccinated people can easily spread Delta variant in households, Imperial College London study suggests
London has the lowest rate at 281.7, up from 259.3.
Additional reporting by PA