London Covid infections rise for third week in a row
Covid infections in London have jumped for the third week in a row following a sustained fall throughout January.
Levels have increased among all adults over 25 across all regions in England, though the proportion of schoolchildren testing positive has fallen.
Infections have also increased in the North East, North West, East Midlands and the South West.
An estimated 1.4 million people in private households in the UK were likely to have Covid in the week to February 14, up 17 per cent from 1.2 million the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is the highest total since early January.
Around one in 45 people in England is estimated to have coronavirus, up from one in 55 the previous week.
A surge in the virus in the run-up to Christmas saw infections peak just below three million at the end of December, putting pressure on London’s hospitals.
The figure then fell for much of January, before rising again in recent weeks.
Separate figures released on Thursday show that the rate of Covid hospital admissions in England has climbed to its highest level since the start of the year.
There were 9.4 admissions per 100,000 people in the week to February 19, up from 7.9 per 100,000 the previous week, NHS data shows.
During the recent wave of infections over Christmas, the rate peaked at 11.8 per 100,000.
The current increase is being driven by the Omicron variant BA.2.75, which has overtaken BA.5 and its subvariants as the dominant type of coronavirus in the UK, the ONS said.
The BA.5 variant had been responsible for most Covid infections in the country since the end of June 2022.
But nearly three-quarters (74.5 per cent) of sequenced infections now belong to the BA.2.75 family, including its subvariants XBB and CH.1.1, both of which have a “growth advantage”, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Michelle Bowen, ONS head of health surveillance said: “Infections have continued to increase across most of the UK, with Northern Ireland the exception with an uncertain trend in the most recent week.
“Across age groups in England the picture is mixed. We’ve seen decreases in schoolchildren, though this data comes too early to see the impact of half-term, yet growth in all adults over the age of 25.”
The virus continues to be least prevalent in Northern Ireland, with around one in 60 people estimated to currently have the virus.
The latest estimate for Scotland is one in 45 people, while for Wales it is one in 55.