According to the UKHSA, the rise in cases has been accompanied by an increase in hospitalisations, but a decline in the number of COVID-19-related deaths

COVID virus visualisation two tone

The NHS continues to face ‘significant pressures’ as the latest indicators show that COVID-19 and hospital admission rates in England continue to rise, NHS service providers have warned.

The latest data from the ZOE COVID Study suggest that there were 258,155 new daily symptomatic cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 in the last week. This represents a 47% week-on-week increase, and a record high in the number of cases recorded in a day, it reported.

Rates were found to be highest across Scotland, London, and the South East of England.

Cases ‘rocketing’

Professor Tim Spector, chief scientist for the study, said that app user data show that cases are ‘rocketing’, with the incidence of COVID-19 increasing in all age groups, and an estimated R number of 1.2 across the UK as a whole.

Researchers for the community monitoring study said: ‘Concerningly, we’re also seeing an increase among those aged 55 [years and older], who are more susceptible to serious illness.’

The latest official surveillance data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggest that COVID-19 cases increased in all English regions in the week ending 13 March 2022, and in all ages and ethnic groups. Case rates were highest in those aged 30–39 years, and lowest in the 0–4 years age group.

This rise in COVID-19 cases may be attributable to increasing socialisation, the ending of legal requirements for self-isolation, and increased transmissibility of the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, the UKHSA said in its assessment.

Hospitalisations

The rise in case rates has been accompanied by an increase in hospitalisations, but a decline in the number of COVID-19-related deaths, the UKHSA said.

Data from the Government’s coronavirus dashboard show there were 1777 new hospital admissions of patients with confirmed COVID-19 on 13 March, up from 1430 on 6 March—an increase in the weekly incidence of 24.3%. The number of patients with COVID-19 in UK hospitals stood at 14,078 on 15 March, up from 11,736 on 8 March.

‘Clearly, the pressure is mounting once again on our rather beleaguered NHS’, said Professor Spector.

Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, said: ‘These latest figures show the NHS is still facing significant pressures, with no sign of pressures abating as we head into spring.’

He warned: ‘While it is positive that the levels of serious illness are lower than in previous waves—which demonstrates just how successful the vaccination programme has been—the rising number of patients with COVID-19, combined with increased staff absences, will have knock on effects for patient care.’

International travel restrictions abolished

The latest winter data came as the Government removed all remaining COVID-19 international travel restrictions. As of 4.00 today, no-one entering the UK will need to take tests or complete a passenger locator form.

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social care, said: ‘As we learn to live with COVID-19, we’re taking further steps to open up international travel once again ahead of the Easter holidays. We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures that can be rapidly deployed if needed, to keep us safe.’

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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