Covid infections soared by two-thirds in England last week with 211,100 new cases in highest number since February — but there are TEN times fewer patients in hospital now than in second wave
- Office for National Statistics swabbing estimated there were 211,100 Covid cases in England last week
- This is the highest number since late February near the end of the second wave when there were 248,100
- But there were also 10,633 Covid patients in hospital at this time, compared to 1,332 last week
England’s Covid outbreak soared by two-thirds last week, but there were ten times fewer patients in hospital than the last time infections spiralled to this level.
Office for National Statistics random swabbing of a tenth of a million people predicted there were now 211,100 cases in the country, up 72 per cent on the previous week and the highest number since late February.
But statistics showed there are now far fewer patients in hospital in a sure sign vaccines are working. There were 10,600 Covid patients on wards the last time England hit 200,000 cases, compared to 1,300 last week.
Oxford University’s Professor James Naismith said it was thanks to vaccines that surging cases were not leading to disaster, adding the UK’s ‘point of maximum danger has probably passed’.
The director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute said: ‘The Prime Minister’s decision to delay unlocking for a month has been validated; more people have been vaccinated and Delta (Indian variant) has been slowed.’
The disparity between rising infection numbers and flatlining deaths and hospitalisations bolstered Boris Johnson‘s comment yesterday that the inoculation drive has ‘broken the link’.
The Prime Minister is doubling down on his re-scheduled lockdown lifting date July 19, amid a growing sense of optimism from No10 that vaccines have beaten the virus.
It comes after at top scientist said yesterday Covid is now just a ‘bad cold’ among people who have got the vaccine. Professor Tim Spector added cases were likely to continue to rise because of Euro 2020 and a boom in staycations.
The Office for National Statistics study asked more than 100,000 Britons to take a PCR test and post it to a laboratory, to find out whether they had the virus.
It is considered to be the gold-standard for Covid surveillance by ministers because the tests are carried out randomly, meaning it can reach those who are less likely to get swabbed for the virus and pick up asymptomatic cases — which trigger no warning signs — thought to represent about a third of cases.
But the study does not provide figures on hospitalisations, which show whether the NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed as it tackles through a record-breaking backlog of patients.
Across England, Covid infections were highest among 17 to 24-year-olds after their positivity rate — the proportion of tests carried out in this age group that detect the virus — rose to 1.73 per cent.
They were followed by 12 to 16-year-olds (0.83 per cent positivity rate), and those aged 2 to 11-years-old (0.7 per cent) and 25 to 34-years-old (0.65 per cent). The lowest Covid rates were among over-70s (0.1 per cent).
The North West — the first area to suffer an outbreak of the Indian variant — was still the country’s hotspot, with a positivity rate at 0.88 per cent, followed by the North East (0.66 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (0.43 per cent).
The South East had England’s lowest positivity rate (0.13 per cent), followed by the South West (0.19 per cent) and the West Midlands and East of England (0.22 per cent).