Covid-19 infections in the UK have jumped by around 7 per cent, with the ongoing rise still driven by the newest Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.
Hospital numbers are also continuing to increase, with early signs of a rise in intensive care admissions among older age groups.
A total of 3.8 million people in private households are estimated to have had in the week up to 14 July, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures. The previous week there were around 3.3 million cases across the UK.
That is the highest estimate for total infections since late April, but is still some way below the record high of 4.9 million seen at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave at the end of March.
ONS data shows that in summer 2020 below 0.1 per cent of the population in England were testing positive while in 2021 it was 1.57 per cent. Now it is around 4 per cent.
The latest report from the Covid analysis app ZOE shows a sore throat has now become the most reported symptom.
The ZOE study allows infected people to report their symptoms while suffering from the virus.
The data provided is then analysed by King’s College London researchers who track infections across the UK, as well as identifying who is most at risk and where high-risk areas are.
Almost 58 per cent of all Covid patients who used the app reported suffering a sore throat before returning positive tests.
A headache, blocked nose and cough were reported as the next most common symptoms.
Professor Tim Spector, who leads the ZOE project, said: “Covid is still rampant in the population. ZOE Health Study data shows that there were over 350,000 daily Covid cases this week – a new record for the UK.
ICU submissions have increased among the elderly, UKHSA has said
“So much so, that if you have any cold-like symptoms at the moment it’s nearly twice as likely to be Covid as a cold.
“Even if people have had a past infection and are fully vaccinated, people are still catching it.
“Although we all want to make the most of the good weather, people will need to decide for themselves whether going to large events, working from the office or using busy public transport is worth the risk.”
Sarah Crofts, ONS head of analytical outputs for the Covid infection survey, said: “Across the UK we’ve seen a continued increase of over half a million infections, likely caused by the growth of BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
“This rise is seen across all ages, countries and regions of England.
“We will continue to monitor the data closely to see if this growth continues in the coming weeks.”
The number one symptom is now a sore throat according to the ZOE Covid app
Dr Mary Ramsay, director of clinical programmes at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “We continue to see an increase in Covid-19 data, with a rise in case rates and hospitalisations in those aged 65 years and over, and outbreaks in care homes.
“We can also now see a rise in ICU admissions in older age groups.
“Vaccination remains the best defence against severe disease and hospitalisation. Covid-19 has not gone away and we should all remember to keep up good hand and respiratory hygiene.
“It is also sensible to wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces.”