Scotland in particular has seen a huge spike in infections in recent weeks, with pupils’ return to classrooms thought to have fuelled the rise in cases.
Health experts are now warning that it will be crucial to observe if the start of the autumn term causes a similar spike in England, and if this ultimately leads to higher hospital admissions and deaths.
However, it is hoped that the coronavirus vaccines will help to prevent a repeat of the “significant wave” of hospitalisations seen last autumn, although it is expected that infections will go up exponentially in the coming weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK needs to “go faster” with the vaccination of 16 to 17-year-olds, despite a strong uptake, while the government has also been urged to press ahead with a vaccine booster programme to ensure maximum protection heading into winter.
Calls for the booster jabs come as a recent study revealed that people infected with the Delta Covid variant carry twice the risk of needed hospital treatment than those with the Alpha strain.
Of 43,000 patients assessed in the study, around one in 50 were admitted to hospital within two weeks of their first positive test, with admissions higher among Delta cases.
With the Delta variant now the most prevalent in the UK, the government is urging those who have not yet been vaccinated to come forward for the jab, in the hope it will help to keep hospitalisations down.
But where are hospital admissions highest right now? Listed are the areas of England which currently have the most patients in hospital with Covid-19, based on the latest figures from NHS England up to 31 August. Images are for illustrative purposes only.