The rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England has risen to its highest level since February, new figures show. In the week to 24 October, the level of coronavirus admissions stood at 8.4 per 100,000 people, according to the UK Health Security Agency (HSA).
That figure was up from 7.5 the previous week, HSA’s weekly Covid surveillance report showed. It is the highest rate of admission since the week to 21 February, when the UK was struggling with a Covid wave that was killing around 500 people a day.
The West Midlands was the part of the country with the highest rate.
The figures came as Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned the UK remains in a “very uncertain phase” of the pandemic.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Patrick said the country must be prepared to clamp down in order to reduce the virus’ spread.
He said: “There is considerable uncertainty into which direction this goes.
“It’s wrong to think that the build up of immunity is an all or nothing – it’s a sort of protective barrier that will reduce the spread of the virus so we need to monitor this carefully over the next weeks and months.”
He added: “You need to absolutely be prepared for ‘plan B’ and as soon as you start thinking, ‘Am I, or am I not going to do this? It looks close,’ is the time you need to push beyond your natural reluctance to do it and do it.
“This is obviously something the government will have to consider carefully but we need to be ready to move fast if that occurs.”
Rates of new cases of Covid among schoolchildren in England have fallen slightly in the last week, the HSA data showed, although cases remain highest in those aged 10 to 19 years old.
But case rates are continuing to rise in all age groups.
For 40- to 49-year-olds, the latest rate is 592.7, the highest since the start of January, while rates for age groups between 50 and 79 are now at their highest since mid-January.
There is a rough east-west split in regional case rates, the figures show. In northeast England, eastern England, London and the southeast, rates have increased week-on-week. All other regions have recorded a fall.
Southwest England has the highest rate, at 665.9 cases per 100,000 people, though this is down slightly week-on-week from 682.6.
London has the lowest rate at 281.7, up from 259.3.