Covid hotspots revealed as hospital admissions in England climb

Mutated new Covid variant Pirola has seen cases spike, with government announcing the autumn vaccine programme will be brought forward

Joe Middleton
Friday 15 September 2023 07:40 BST
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The top Covid hotspots in England have been revealed as new data showed hospital admissions have risen to their highest rate since the end of April.

There were 8,961 cases in the seven days leading up to September 2, an increase of 22.6% compared to the previous week, according to figures released on Thursday.

The local authority area with the most cases in that time period is Leeds, with 184 cases, followed by Cornwall and Isles of Sicily, with 161 and Birmingham rounding out the top three on 141.

Separate data released by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed hospital admissions for patients who tested positive for Covid-19 stood at 4.6 per 100,000 people in the week to September 10, up from 3.7 per 100,000 the previous week. This is the highest since the week ending April 30.

This is still some way below the level reached at Christmas 2022, when the rate stood at 11.8 per 100,000, and is also well below the figures seen during the first year of the pandemic. The rate has been on a clear upward trend for the past two months.

(Alex Ross)

Just last month experts warned they were “reasonably certain” the UK is in another wave of Covid after a rise in hospital admissions, and warned people should start wearing masks again.

It comes after a new Covid variant, BA.2.86, was first identified in the UK on August 18. An outbreak of the variant was detected in a care home in Norfolk at the end of August, with 33 out of 38 residents testing positive for the virus, and 12 staff. Laboratory tests later showed that 22 residents had the BA.2.86 variant, along with six members of staff.

Dr Renu Bindra, UKHSA incident director, said that while BA.2.86 has a “significant number of mutations” compared with other variants circulating among the population, but that the data so far is “too limited to draw firm conclusions” about the impact this will have on the transmissibility or severity of the virus.

The Covid booster programme will begin in England on September 11 (Peter Byrne/PA)
The Covid booster programme will begin in England on September 11 (Peter Byrne/PA)

She added: “UKHSA scientists are working with international partners to culture the samples and analyse the evidence as it becomes available.

“However, it is likely to be some time before we have enough data to make a confident assessment.

“It is clear that there is some degree of widespread community transmission, both in the UK and globally, and we are working to ascertain the full extent of this.

“In the meantime, it remains vital that all those eligible come forward to receive their autumn vaccine as soon as it is offered to them.”

The rollout of the latest Covid-19 vaccine booster has been brought forward from October to September as a precautionary measure against BA.2.86.

The booster programme will begin in England on September 11, with jabs offered first to residents of adult care homes and clinically vulnerable people. The rollout will then be extended to everyone in the UK aged 65 and over.

Top 11 local authority with increases in Covid cases

AreaCasesRate per 100,000 population
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly16128
County Durham13324.9
Bristol, City of8618.5

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