Covid cases in the UK are still very high and are increasing among older age groups (NationalWorld)

Covid cases UK: 15 areas where coronavirus rates are highest amid warning pandemic ‘not over’

Covid cases are rising among those aged 55 and older in England, as well as hospitalisations

Covid cases in the UK are still very high and are increasing among older age groups, the UK Health Security Agency has warned.

New data indicates that while infections have fallen substantially since the peak of the Omicron wave in January, cases in England are surging in the over 55s.

Imperial College London’s React-1 study reveals an upturn in infections since the remaining coronavirus restrictions were removed in England on 24 February, including the legal requirement to self-isolate.

The latest findings from 95,000 random swab tests, covering 8 February to 1 March, suggest one in 35 people were infected with the virus over this period.

Prevalence in England was 2.9%, down on the 4.4% reported in the period from 5 to 20 January. However, it was the second highest recorded rate since the study began in 2020.

Researchers suggest the rising case numbers are being driven by the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron, which has been dubbed ‘Stealth Omicron’ as it does not have a tell-tale marker on its spike protein, making it more difficult to differentiate from Omicron BA.1 and Delta.

Increased social mixing since restrictions eased is also thought to have contributed to the surge in infections, along with the waning effectiveness of the vaccine booster.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “These data confirm that cases have declined substantially following the peak of the Omicron wave.

“However, the increasing presence of the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron and the recent slight increase in infections in those over 55 show that the pandemic is not over and that we can expect to see Covid circulating at high levels.”

Professor Paul Elliott, director of Imperial College London’s React programme, warned that England is also seeing a rise in hospitalisations and warned that the BA.2 variant needs to be tracked carefully.

He added: “It is more transmissible. We are seeing an uptick in infections, particularly in the older group, and we are seeing an uptick in hospitalisations.

“At the moment, we’re possibly seeing the beginning of an uptick, but we don’t know where it’s going to go.”

According to the UK Covid dashboard, there were 409 cases per 100,000 people recorded in the seven days to 4 March, the latest available data by the date a test was taken

But where are Covid rates highest in the UK right now? Listed are the UK areas where rates were highest in the week to 4 March. Images are for illustrative purposes only.

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