The number of patients in hospital with Covid has reached record highs across the UK following the easing of restrictions.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures estimate 3.3 million people had the virus last week, up from 2.6 million from the week before.
The high case numbers has seen patient levels in the south east and south west of England hit the highest level since February last year, surpassing the peaks reached in the previous surge of infections at the start of 2022.
The total number of people in hospital with Covid in England currently stands at 12,753, up 21% week-on-week and the highest since 1 February this year.
In Scotland, patient levels have hit a new record, with 2,128 recorded on Sunday (20 March), beating the previous peak of 2,053 in January 2021.
Across the UK as a whole, 14,948 people with Covid were in hospital on 18 March, up 22% week-on-week, although this is still below the recent UK peak of 20,047 on 10 January. It is also well below the all-time UK peak of 39,255 recorded during the second wave of the virus on 18 January 2021.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that there is “no particular cause for concern” despite the jump in infections and hospital patients.
He said that while more than 12,000 people in English hospitals are currently Covid-positive, the NHS estimates that almost 60% have not been admitted because of coronavirus, but are instead in hospital for another reason.
Mr Javid told Times Radio: “The NHS estimates almost 60% are not [in hospital] because of Covid – they are there for something else. That might be a hip operation or something, but they happen to be Covid-positive.
“So those that are actually there for Covid is a much smaller number and so that does give us a lot of confidence that we are learning to live with Covid.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of cases at the moment and indeed hospitalisations, that said the numbers are significantly below the Omicron peak.
“But it’s right that we keep vaccination under review and so I have accepted the latest advice of the JCVI – that’s our expert group of independent advisors – to offer this spring booster jab to anyone that’s 75 or over, residents of elderly people’s care homes, and those that have weakened immune systems.
“It will top up their protection against this virus and allow them to go about their daily lives with more confidence.”
But which areas of England currently have the highest number of coronavirus patients? Listed are the 15 NHS trusts with the most patients in hospital with Covid, based on the latest data up to 15 March 2022. Images are for illustrative purposes only.