Third wave of Covid-19 cases: How do the four UK nations compare?

·3-min read

All four nations of the UK are now experiencing a third wave of coronavirus cases, with Scotland currently recording its highest rate of new cases since comparable figures began last summer.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland are seeing their highest rates since early February.

A growing number of local areas are recording rates close to or above the peak of the second wave – particularly those in eastern and central Scotland and in north-east England.

However, other parts of the country have yet to see cases begin to surge.

Scotland’s rate of new cases currently stands at 405.8 per 100,000 people – the highest since comparable records began in the summer of 2020, when mass testing was introduced across the country.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

Scotland is the only one of the four nations to have seen case rates reach a new high, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

But this is partly because rates peaked at a much lower level in Scotland during the second wave than in the rest of the UK, at 301.9 cases per 100,000, compared with peaks of 680.6 in England, 649.2 in Wales and 689.6 in Northern Ireland.

This is also why a large number of local areas of Scotland are now above their second-wave peak, including Dundee where the rate is currently 862.6 – the highest anywhere in the UK.

By contrast, England’s rate is currently 223.2 – the highest since February 2 and still some way below its second-wave peak.

The rate is up sharply week-on-week from 129.0, however.

Wales currently has the lowest rate of the four nations: 101.2, up week-on-week from 59.5.

Northern Ireland is at 114.1, up from 63.5.

All four nations are contemplating a further easing of coronavirus rules in the coming weeks, which is likely to drive case rates even higher.

The third wave of cases is already causing a rise in the number of people in hospital with Covid-19, but not yet at the same speed or on the same scale as that witnessed during the second wave – reflecting the success of the coronavirus vaccines in weakening the link between infection and serious illness.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

A total of 1,611 patients were in hospital in England with Covid-19 as of July 2, according to NHS England – up 25% on the previous week and the highest number since April 20.

And in Scotland 316 patients were in hospital with confirmed Covid-19 on July 3, according to the Scottish Government – up 61% on the previous week and the highest since March 23.

As with case rates, an easing of Covid-19 restrictions is likely to drive these numbers higher.

But it is too early to tell when and how high the third wave of hospital admissions will peak.

Meanwhile, the rate of Covid-19 deaths in all four nations remains very low, with 0.2 deaths per 100,000 people in England for the week to June 29, compared with 14.5 at the peak of the second wave.

In Scotland the rate is currently 0.3, compared with a second-wave peak of 8.2, and both Wales and Northern Ireland are currently recording a rate of zero deaths, compared with second-wave peaks of 10.7 and 8.4 respectively.

The rates are for people who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

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