The growth rate of the number of coronavirus patients in hospital is slowing in every region of England, suggesting the country is approaching the peak of the second wave of coronavirus.
Latest government figures show that the total number of COVID patients in hospital increased by 8% between 10 and 17 January. That’s down from a 23% increase between 3 and 10 January.
The week-on-week growth rate has slowed in every region. In the East of England, London, and the South East the seven-day average for the number of people in hospital has flattened, while the number of patients actually being admitted is in decline.
In the Midlands, the North East & Yorkshire, the North West, and the South West the number of cases is still increasing, but the pace of growth as decreased in recent days.
While encouraging, the surge in COVID patients in recent weeks has left the NHS under huge strain, with staff overwhelmed and the number of beds dwindling.
Speaking during a coronavirus press conference on Monday, health secretary Matt Hancock said that while the coronavirus outbreak is being brought “under control”, the NHS is “under significant pressure”.
The number of people in hospital with the virus is at its highest level yet – at 37,435 – with someone being admitted every 30 seconds.
Hancock did offer a glimpse of hope, adding that the vaccination plan to immunise people against COVID-19 is on target.
He confirmed that the UK is aiming to offer all adults the vaccine by September, with the over-70s being offered a vaccination from Monday.
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Earlier, he announced that half of all over-80s have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, which brings the total number of vaccinations to four million people.
Professor Stephen Powis, the national medical director for the NHS in England, said it is "the absolute priority to get vaccines to the most vulnerable groups and they are doing it as fast as they can throughout the country”.
Earlier on Monday, Prof Powis said “we are beginning to see” the effects of lockdown measures.
On when the current lockdown measures will have an effect on hospital admissions, he said: “I think we are beginning to see an effect of lockdown measures.
“We know the lockdown measures work, we saw that in April, we saw it in November.
“And we are beginning to see it now and that’s good news because, of course, we have also had this new strain which is more transmissible.
“So although infection rates are beginning to slow, maybe here in London and a little bit less so in the rest of the country, it will be a number of weeks before we start to see that effect on the number of people in hospitals.”
Infection rates subside
The positive news is backed up by new data showing coronavirus case rates have dropped week-on-week across every region of England.
The analysis, by the PA news agency, shows that of the 315 local areas in England, 279 (89%) have seen a fall in case rates in the seven days to January 13 compared with the previous week, while 36 (11%) have seen a rise.
The rates have fallen across every region in the country over the same period, with the highest drop in London, down from 1,014.6 cases per 100,000 people to 761.3 in the week to January 13.
It is followed by eastern England, which is down from 755.0 to 556.6 and the South East which is down from 688.7 to 530.4.
The case rates in the other regions of England are:
– North East: down from 429.0 to 341.8
– West Midlands: down from 617.6 to 562.3
– East Midlands: down from 454.8 to 407.7
– North West: down from 597.2 to 554.3
– Yorkshire and Humber: down from 319.2 to 283.5
– South West: down from 381.7 to 348.9
On Monday, data revealed that the UK now has the highest death rate from COVID-19 of any country in the world.
Figures compiled by University of Oxford-based research platform Our World in Data show that an average of 935 daily deaths in the UK over the last week was the equivalent of more than 16 people in every million dying each day from coronavirus.
The UK recorded 599 more coronavirus deaths and another 37,535 cases on Monday.
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