Hospital admissions for patients with COVID-19 jumped 48 percent over the last week in England, as experts warn that the first winter wave is starting to impact the health service.
Hospital bed occupancy for patients with COVID is up 37 percent compared with the previous seven days. Hospital admission rates are highest in the South East (up 64 percent) and the Midlands (up 58 percent) over the same period, according to analysis of NHS figures by the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group of insurance experts and epidemiologists.
“It is clear now that we are seeing an increase which could signal the start of the anticipated winter wave of COVID-19,” said Mary Ramsay, director of public health programs at the U.K. Health Security Agency. “Cases have started to climb and hospitalizations are increasing in the oldest age groups.”
Much of the surge is driven by coronavirus acquired in hospital, the figures show. The proportion of beds occupied for COVID, as opposed to with COVID, stands at 39 percent in England, a rise of 46 percent over the week. In some areas, more than half of people in hospital with COVID are being treated primarily for their coronavirus infection.
Ramsay urged people to get boosted against COVID-19 as well as vaccinated against flu, as she warned of an “unpredictable winter.”
All those over 50 and those with conditions that make them more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 are currently eligible for a new dual-variant targeting booster. Children, older and vulnerable people are eligible for free flu shots.