Covid hospitalisations have started to fall in England (Photo: Halfpoint Images via Getty Images)
Finally – there’s a glimmer of good news about Covid.
More specifically, hospital admissions in England have finally dropped, taking rates back to where they were in May 2022.
That may not sound like a substantial difference, but it does actually indicate severe infection levels have pulled back to the rate they were before the Omicron sub-variant, BA.5, became dominant.
It also follows a single study from Portugal which warned that hospitalisations were 3.3 times more likely with the current strain.
While overall transmissions are harder to monitor now that routine testing in care homes has been dropped along with free lateral flow tests, hospitalisations are believed to be a strong monitor of how severe current variants are.
Quick Covid update for England - hospital admissions still falling and we are now back where we were in May 2022 between the two recent Omicron waves.
In May we could already see BA.5 growing, but there's nothing like that in England right now (as far as I can tell-good news!) pic.twitter.com/BZOZXkbqVk
— Prof. Christina Pagel 🇺🇦 (@chrischirp) August 31, 2022
According to the official data on the government’s Covid dashboard, 4,806 Covid-19 patients were admitted in the week leading up to August 24.
This is a decrease of about 1,199 patients compared to the week before, which also equates to around 20% of the total number who were in hospital.
There’s been a steady decline in Covid hospitalisations since July 4, when 1,911 people were admitted in one day.
On August 19, 648 people were admitted in one day – a number comparable to early May of this year, or even November last year.
For comparison, the number of deaths involving Covid is also lower than it has been for several weeks, at around 120-110 per day. This is a decrease of around 28% when looking at the data for the week leading up to August 24 and at the data from the week before.
Deaths involving Covid-19 in England & Wales. (Photo: PA GraphicsPress Association Images)
But, as ever, good news comes with a caveat: there’s no guarantee numbers will stay like this as the weeks progress.
September means students both at school and university will return for the start of term, which could usher in a new wave of infections.
On top of that, colder months will mean more indoor socialising, allowing the airborne virus to access more people.
Then there’s the worries about heating. With the energy crisis set to worsen come October, NHS leaders have taken the unusual step of warning the government that there will be a public health emergency if action is not taken. If people are unable to heat their homes or eat nutritious food, and fall into fuel poverty, they are more likely to fall ill too.
The chief executive of the NHS Confederation Matthew Taylor dubbed it an upcoming “humanitarian crisis”, which could lead to outbreaks of sickness and widen health inequalities.
“These outbreaks will strike just as the NHS is likely to experience the most difficult winter on record,” he said.
Although Taylor does not mention Covid, levels of the virus tend to tick upwards in the winter.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.