Number of people in hospital with COVID in Scotland higher than ever

A member of staff walks through a ward for Covid patients at King's College Hospital, in south east London. Picture date: Tuesday December 21, 2021.
Some 2,128 patients were in hospital with the virus in Scotland on Sunday, a record high. (PA Images)

The number of patients in hospital in Scotland with coronavirus has reached the highest so far since the start of the pandemic.

The latest figures show that 2,128 patients were in hospital with the virus on Sunday, a record high, with 31 of those in intensive care.

The data has raised concerns over the Scottish Parliament's decision to go ahead with easing restrictions.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed last week that from Monday businesses such as bars and restaurants will no longer be required to retain customer contact details.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 22, 2022: Commuters, some continuing to wear face masks, arrive at Waterloo station during morning rush hour as all of England's remaining Covid restrictions are set to end later this week on February 22, 2022 in London, England. Yesterday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government's long-term strategy for living with Covid-19 in England including lifting of the legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for the virus from Thursday this week as well as an end to the universal free testing on 1st April. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
COVID cases continue to rise in the UK. (Getty)

The legal requirement for businesses, places of worship and others to “take reasonably practicable measures” set out in Scottish government coronavirus guidance is also being ended.

Public health expert Prof Linda Bauld warned last week that Scotland was approaching record numbers for COVID sufferers in its hospitals. She said: "Let's hope we are heading towards the peak or we are already at it in terms of infection because the problems in our hospitals are, once again, pretty acute."

On Monday, Sajid Javid said there are 11,500 people with COVID-19 in English hospitals. However, he said nearly 60% of that number - about 6,900 patients - are in hospital for something other than treatment for coronavirus.

Watch: Fourth dose of COVID vaccine 'under review', says Sajid Javid

Between 12 and 18 March, 551,198 people were confirmed to have tested positive for COVID in the UK, a 38% rise - or increase of 152,378 - on the previous seven-day period.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid during the Conservative Party Spring Forum at Winter Gardens, Blackpool. Picture date: Friday March 18, 2022.
Health secretary Sajid Javid during the Conservative Party Spring Forum at Winter Gardens, Blackpool, on Friday. (PA)

Read more: Waning immunity likely to blame for rising COVID cases in elderly

Javid told Times Radio on Monday: “At the moment, in English hospitals we have around 11,500 people that are COVID-positive, but of those people the NHS estimates almost 60% are not there because of COVID – they are there for something else.

"That might be a hip operation or something, but they happen to be COVID-positive.

“So those that are actually there for COVID is a much smaller number and so that does give us a lot of confidence that we are learning to live with COVID."

He acknowledged there had been an increase in coronavirus cases but that numbers were significantly below the Omicron variant peak.

But Professor James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, and Professor of Structural Biology, University of Oxford, said the high infection rates around the UK were a risk for the vulnerable.

File photo dated 31/07/21 of a person receiving a Covid-19 jab, as the rollout of the coronavirus vaccination programme has been praised by the UK's public spending watchdog for meeting
A spring COVID booster programme has been rolled out for over 75s and vulnerable groups. (PA)

He said: "My main concern is for the vulnerable for whom this disease is serious. Every effort must be made to triple vaccinate as many people as possible, quadruple vaccinate the most vulnerable."

From Monday, a spring booster is available to people aged 75 or over and those who are immunosuppressed.

The booster will be made available to about five million people, with 600,000 expected to receive invitations in the first week.

Javid said: “It will top up their protection against this virus and allow them to go about their daily lives with more confidence.”

He said a further booster programme, for those aged 50 and over, was a possibility in the autumn.

Watch: Health secretary says 'currently no COVID variants of concern'