Almost one-tenth of hospital beds in England are filled with Covid positive patients as case numbers jumped to more than 10,000.
The latest NHS figures for Covid hospital admissions show the number of positive patients in hospital was up by 37 per cent on Monday to 10,658, from 7,822 in the week prior.
Scientists have called for Covid vaccines to be urgently updated to target new variants, as infection rates soared to almost record levels.
NHS data published on Monday showed the number of new admissions increased to 1,374 on 2 July, up from 1,276 in the week before.
The average number of daily admissions over seven days also increased by 32 per cent week-on-week, the figures show.
The number of Covid-positive patients in critical care units also continued to increase, up from 192 on 27 June to 223 on 4 July.
According to an analysis by the Covid-19 Actuaries Group, if compared with the wave in March and April, England is currently at two-thirds of its previous peak.
Comparing admissions to the BA.2 wave in March/April. Overall, England is at around two-thirds (68%) of the previous peak. That’s 10 more days at the current rate of growth.
London (where growth now slowest) is at 81% of peak.
South West (where growth now fastest) is at 55%. pic.twitter.com/fTDj0flEl4
— COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group (@COVID19actuary) July 4, 2022
Last week, The Independent revealed some hospitals had begun to U-turn on decisions to drop face masks. Following initial stories, more hospitals have announced they are reintroducing the requirement.
Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust said on Monday: “As new sub-variants [BA.4 and BA.] have driven rising cases and hospital admissions both locally and across the UK, there have been steady increases in the number of healthcare staff testing positive, adding to additional strain on resources.”
An average of 285,507 people are being infected with the virus each day in the UK, according to the latest data from the Zoe Covid study.
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), warned last week that the UK faces an early flu season ahead of another Covid wave in the autumn. This is alongside growing monkeypox infections.
Dr Hopkins said: “While we normally don’t see influenza really kick off until the end of November to December, that might happen as early as late September-October – that’s what we’re planning for.”
She said that she and her colleagues were watching Australia “very, very carefully”, as flu season there started early and rose quickly among all age groups.
She added: “We will see at least one Covid wave in the autumn-winter, once we have got through the current wave,” Dr Hopkins added. “And for the next six months at least, we will have ongoing community transmission of monkeypox.”
Dame Jenny Harries, UKHSA chief executive, on Sunday warned hospital cases were expected to rise further and raised concerns about the NHS’s ability to treat other illnesses as a result.
She told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “It doesn’t look as though that wave has finished yet, so we would anticipate that hospital cases will rise. And it’s possible, quite likely, that they will actually peak over the previous BA.2 wave.”
“While we have an armament now of vaccines and antiviral treatments, we do have, as you’ve just highlighted, a rise in hospital admissions and occupancy,” she said.