Weekly Covid cases hit 4.3m high but ‘encouraging’ data shows London 'is past the peak'

Weekly Covid cases hit 4.3m high but ‘encouraging’ data shows London 'is past the peak'

COVID infections rose to 4.3million in the UK last week – but London is showing "encouraging" signs as cases drop.

The capital saw an explosion of Omicron infections at the start of December, becoming the country's variant epicentre, but now appears to have peaked.


The latest Office for National Statistics showed an increase of 600,000 cases in the UK, compared to the week running up to the new year.

But the drop in infections in London is a promising green shoot, just weeks after the variant took hold of the country.

Around one in 15 people were hit with the virus in England up to January 7.

Sarah Crofts, Head of Analytical Outputs for the Covid-19 Infection Survey said: “It’s encouraging that infections in London have decreased in the most recent week.

"Infections have increased across all other English regions, apart from the East of England, where the trend is uncertain.

“Monitoring this situation is critical during this period of high infections.”

A string of positive studies show Omicron is milder than other strains in the vaccinated, with data revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

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Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions and protect the NHS.

Over 1.2 million booster jab appointments are still available this week.

NHS national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “There is no excuse not to get your boost of protection with over 1.2 million vaccine appointments up for grabs this week. 

“We know that around one fifth of people who have had their first two doses and are eligible for their booster are yet to get protected but there is no time or reason to delay.

“If you have put it off, now is the time to book and get boosted – it will protect you and ensure you can get maximum protection from Omicron as well as protecting those you love."

Despite cases rapidly increasing, hospitals are thankfully not seeing the same level of admissions compared to last winter.

But some trusts have declared critical incidents and called in help from the army in two areas, as staff illnesses and increasing infections hit.

Yesterday Covid cases dropped 45 per cent in a week in further signs the Omicron outbreak is on the way out.

A further 120,821 infections were announced on Tuesday afternoon by the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA), compared with a record high of 218,724 reported seven days ago.

The January 4 data included extra cases and death that went unreported from Northern Ireland and Wales over the New Year bank holiday.

But yesterday's figures still mark a huge drop in case numbers week-on-week, indicating the country could be moving past the peak.

However the number of fatalities over the past seven days (1,660) is 81 per cent higher than the week prior.

Upticks in deaths and hospital patients always lags behind a surge in cases.

The number of deaths this winter has not yet come near the peak of previous waves despite a huge surge in Omicron cases over the festive period.

But yesterday's death figure is the highest since February 2021, as are hospital inpatients.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s regional director for London, said officials are starting to see a decrease in Covid prevalence in the capital.

“We think we may have passed or are at the peak,” he told Sky News on Sunday morning. 

“Data from the ONS [Office for National Statistics] suggests that the peak may have occurred at or just about New Year period and we’re seeing reductions in overall case rates across the city and the prevalence of infections within the community.”

“Remember that infection levels are still very, very high… It means that we’re not yet out of this critical phase of the pandemic, although we may well be past the peak."

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