Hospital admissions with Covid in England have jumped 17 per cent in a week and are rising significantly for the first time since July amid fears of a new wave.
The latest NHS statistics show that 718 people were admitted to English hospitals on Sep 19 – a large increase compared to the previous week, when daily admissions did not rise above 586 and fell as low as 476.
It is the first time there has been a significant rise in admissions since numbers began to fall at the beginning of July.
The Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group calculated that the seven-day average has risen by 17 per cent and said it was clear that the R-number – the average number of people an infected individual can expect to pass the virus on to – was now above one.
Dr Kit Yates, a member of Independent Sage, warned: “All the early indicators are pointing towards the beginning of another wave.”
Experts said the increase was likely to be due to a back to school effect, as well as more workers returning from the summer holidays. Cooler weather means more people are meeting indoors, while many have not had a vaccination for nine months, meaning immunity is waning.
The biggest increases were seen in the South West, where admissions rose 39 per cent, followed by the East, with an increase of 33 per cent. In the North East and Yorkshire, admissions have risen 30 per cent in the past week.
‘Try to stay at home if you are unwell’
Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency, also said it was clear admissions were rising and urged people to get boosted.
“While Covid-19 rates are still low, the latest data for the last seven days indicate a rise in hospitalisations and a rise in positive tests reported from the community,” she said.
“As it gets colder and we head towards winter, we will start to see respiratory infections pick up – please try to stay at home if you are unwell and avoid contact with vulnerable people.”
However, experts said that much of the increase appeared to be people getting Covid while in hospital. Likely hospital-acquired cases have increased to 1,133 in England in the past seven days – an increase of 46 per cent.
Adele Groyer, an actuary at Gen Re, said: “Likely hospital acquired Covid cases now account for 28 per cent of hospital admissions in England, the highest proportion seen if we look back to the start of April.
“This may reflect reduced routine testing at admission, with people only being tested if they later become unwell. Covid in addition to whatever brought a patient into hospital will not aid their recovery.”
As of Sep 20, there were 4,667 patients in hospital in England with Covid, but just 1,679 – 36 per cent – were being treated primarily for the virus. Deaths with the virus are still falling in hospitals in England, with the seven-day average having dropped 12 per cent.