Covid-19 infections have risen in all four nations of the UK, new figures show. It is the first time since the end of January that all nations have seen a simultaneous week-on-week increase in infections, and is the clearest indication yet that the virus is once again becoming more prevalent throughout the country.
Around one in 25 people in England had Covid-19 in the week to March 5, or 2.1 million people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). But what’s the latest in London? There are currently 1,902 patient with Covid in London hospitals, 102 of them are on ventilation beds.
There has been a slight increase in hospitalisations since the end of February, where numbers were previously seeing a huge decline. There is nowhere near levels we saw at their highest back in January 2021, where more than 1,000 Covid patients were consistently on ventilation beds.
READ MORE:Two children in hospital after Covid outbreak shuts London school
Deaths across England are on a downward trend – a total of 670 deaths registered in the week ending March 4 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to ONS. This is down 13 per cent on the previous seven days and is just under half the number of weekly deaths registered at the peak of the recent Omicron wave of infections.
The relatively low number of deaths during the Omicron wave reflects the success of the vaccination programme, in particular the rollout of booster doses at the end of last year. It is too soon to see any impact in the figures of the rise in coronavirus infections (on hospitalisations and deaths) across the UK in recent days.
London remains the least vaccinated area in the UK – the 13 lowest vaccinated local authorities in the country are all in London. Around 30 per cent of people in Westminster, Newham, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith, Brent and Hackney are yet to receive a single dose of a vaccine. A whopping 16,623,091 jabs have been given in the capital in total, however.
Vaccine effectiveness against mortality with the Omicron variant for people aged 50 and over is estimated to be 95 per cent at two or more weeks after a booster jab, compared with around 60 per cent at 25-plus weeks after a second dose, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
View the map below for the rate of Covid cases per 100k of the population in each borough:
Kingston Upon Thames currently has the highest rate of Covid cases – with 753.6 per 100k of the population, followed by Richmond Upon Thames. It comes as The World Health Organisation (WHO) dismissed the notion that the virus was “through it in the northern hemisphere until next winter” as it highlighted rising cases of the virus in the UK.
And it warned that deaths will follow any rise in cases. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, told a media briefing: “After several weeks of declines, reported cases of Covid-19 are once again increasing globally. These increases are occurring despite reductions in testing in some countries, which means the cases we are seeing are just the tip of the iceberg. And we know that when cases increase, so do deaths.
“Continued local outbreaks and surges are to be expected, particularly in areas where measures to prevent transmission have been lifted. Each country is facing a different situation with different challenges, but the pandemic is not over.”
(Image: PA Graphics/Press Association Images)
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, added: “The virus is still moving around quite easily and in the context of waning immunity and the fact that vaccines don’t work perfectly against infection, the likelihood is that this virus will echo around the world.
“It will be high on some parts and sometimes it will move and be higher again, it will move to another area where immunity is waning. And the virus will pick up pockets of susceptibility and will survive in those pockets for months and months until another pocket of susceptibility opens up.
“This is how viruses work – they establish themselves within a community and they will move quickly to the next community that’s unprotected. So I do think it’s very important that we recognise that the transmission of this disease will occur. It will wax and wane.
“It has not settled down into a purely seasonal or predictable pattern yet. So the idea that we’re through it in the northern hemisphere now and we’ve got to wait till next winter – I think when we look at increasing rates for example of cases in the likes of the UK, I think we need to be very, very, very vigilant. We need to be very cautious. We need to watch this very carefully.”
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, suggested that there are many reasons behind the increase in cases. She said that cases of the Omicron variant of the virus were “transmitting at a very intense level around the world”, including the BA.2 version of this variant which “is the most transmissible variant we have seen to date”.
Meanwhile many public health measures have been eased which “provides the virus an opportunity to spread” and vaccination coverage around the world is “incomplete”. And “misinformation” about the virus is “causing a lot of confusion” she added.
“We completely understand that the world wants to move on from Covid-19, but this virus spreads very efficiently between people and if we don’t have the right interventions in place, the virus will take opportunities to continue to spread,” she said.
On Monday Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that a rise in Covid infections was to be “expected” following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in England. But he insisted that the UK remains in a “very good position” with regards to the virus.
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