Covid: 20 UK areas where the most people have coronavirus according to ONS data amid BA.4 and BA.5 wave

The Office for National Statistics estimates Covid infections are continuing to increase across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The proportion of people testing positive for Covid in the UK has continued to increase, new figures show, after the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron strains became the dominant form of the virus.

New data published today (24 June) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows the prevalence of Covid in some parts of the country is twice as high than in others.

In the week to 18 June, the ONS estimated that 2.5% of people in England had Covid (one in 40), as did 2.3% in Wales (one in 45), 3.3% in Northern Ireland (one in 30) and 4.8% in Scotland (one in 20).

In one part of the country 5% of people tested positive in the latest period.

The estimates are based on random PCR samples from private households across the UK. It excludes people living in communal housing such as care homes.

Covid rates have increased in all four nations over the last week. A total of 1.7 million people were estimated to have the virus last week, up from 1.4 million the week before, a rise of 23%. The previous week there was a 43% increase.

New data published yesterday (23 June) by the Wellcome Sanger Institute shows BA.4 and BA.5 became the dominant Covid strains in England in the week to 11 June.

Of the 953 positive PCR tests successfully analysed, 547 were found to be either BA.4 or BA.5, 57% of the total.

In the previous week, they made up 42% of cases.

BA.4 and BA.5 are sub variants of the Omicron variant, and were designated as ‘variants of concern’ by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in May.

They have been blamed for a new wave of infections in the UK, with hospital admissions also rising sharply in recent weeks.

The 20 UK areas with the highest Covid prevalence in the week to 18 June, according to the ONS data, are listed below.

Some less populous council areas are grouped into a larger area in the data.