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Fall in hospital admissions is latest sign Covid wave is receding

Hospital ward (Peter Byrne/PA)
Hospital ward (Peter Byrne/PA)

The rate of Covid-19 admissions to hospitals in England has fallen for the second week in a row, in further evidence the current wave of infections has peaked.

The overall number of patients testing positive for the virus is also continuing to drop and is currently down 32% from the recent peak.

Covid-19 infection levels had been rising since the end of May, driven by the spread of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.

But a variety of data published in the past few days suggests the wave is now receding.

Hospital admissions in England of people with Covid-19 stood at 12.1 per 100,000 in the seven days to July 31, according to new figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

This is down from 15.6 per 100,000 in the previous seven days, and is the second successive week-on-week fall.

The rate of admissions to intensive care units has decreased from 0.5 per 100,000 to 0.4 – again, the second weekly drop in a row.

Admissions rates are falling for all age groups, though they remain highest among the most elderly.

The rate was 104.2 per 100,000 for people aged 85 and over in the week to July 31, down from 141.7 the previous week.

Coronavirus graphic
(PA Graphics)

Separate figures from NHS England show the total number of people in hospital in England who have tested positive for Covid-19 stood at 9,498 on August 4, down 17% week-on-week.

This is also down 32% from a peak of 14,044 on July 18.

Patient numbers in the latest wave have not risen as high as they did during the waves earlier this year, both of which saw peaks above 16,000.

Numbers have also remained well below the peak reached during the Alpha wave of infections in January 2021, when more than 34,000 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital.

Estimates published last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed 2.6 million people in England were likely to have had Covid-19 in the week to July 20, down from 3.1 million in the previous week.

This was the first week-on-week fall in infections since late May.

New estimates of infection levels will be released by the ONS on Friday.

There have been three Omicron waves of coronavirus so far this year, with the spring wave, driven by BA.2, sending infections to record levels.

High levels of coronavirus antibodies among the population, either from vaccination or previous infection, have meant the number of people seriously ill or dying from the virus has stayed low, however.