(Composite: Mark Hall / JPIMedia)(Composite: Mark Hall / JPIMedia)
(Composite: Mark Hall / JPIMedia)

England areas with most Covid patients in hospital as infection rates reach highest recorded level

England’s deputy chief medical officer said the UK is now at “half-time in extra time” in the battle against Covid-19

Covid-19 rates in England have reached their highest ever overall level since May last year, a new study has found.

React-1 study researchers have been collecting data since May 2020 and suggest the high rates are being driven by infections among children aged five to 12 and 13 to 17.

About one in 17 participants in both age groups tested positive during the study period of 19 to 29 October.

Researchers from Imperial College London estimated that the next highest prevalence was in “parent-aged” adults, between 35 and 54.

The high prevalence among school age children has been attributed to current low vaccination levels among 12 to 15 year-olds, while infections among parent-aged adults has been linked to waning effectiveness of the vaccines, and the fact this age group is not yet eligible for booster doses.

Across all ages, the prevalence of Covid-19 among the 67,000 people randomly tested was 1.72%, compared with 0.83% in September 2021.

In January this year, after the Delta variant became dominant in the UK, the prevalence was estimated to be 1.57%.

The findings come as England’s deputy chief medical officer said the UK is now at “half-time in extra time” in the battle against Covid-19, and suggesting the situation should improve in the spring.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam urged people to be cautious this winter when infections are expected to rise, but stressed that easier times could be mere months away.

At the moment, the government has resisted calls to implement its ‘Plan B’ winter measures, despite rising cases, saying that pressures on the NHS are not yet unsustainable.

It is expected that the winter strategy will only be implemented if hospital admissions significantly rise, with Professor Neil Ferguson estimating earlier this month that tougher measures would be necessary if hospitalisations breached 1,200 - around a third higher than its current rate.

But where are Covid-related 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 data from NHS England up to 26 October. Images are for illustrative purposes only.