One of the UK’s most senior health officials has urged people to wear masks in crowded places amid fears COVID hospital admissions are set to hit an 18-month high.
Dame Dr Jenny Harries warned the current wave of the virus, which is being driven by Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, has not yet peaked. She said it was “quite likely” that patient admissions will rise higher than the last wave in spring.
Dr Harries told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “It doesn’t look as though that wave has finished yet, so we would anticipate that hospital cases will rise. And it’s possible, quite likely, that they will actually peak over the previous BA.2 wave.”
In April, the Omicron BA.2 variant saw the number of Covid patients in UK hospitals peak at just over 20,000. At the time, this was the highest number of Covid-related hospital admissions since February last year, when numbers peaked at more than 2,500 per day.
Dr Harries added that people should "go about their normal lives" but in a "precautionary way", such as wearing face coverings, keeping a safe distance and washing hands.
COVID hospital admissions in Merseyside
The number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 has risen sharply across parts of Merseyside, with one NHS hospital trust recording a 153% increase in a week.
That average rise recorded across England for the same period of the week up to June 26 was 38%.
Every region of England is now seeing increasing numbers of people being admitted to hospital with COVID-19, official figures show.
The UK Coronavirus dashboard reveals that one of steepest rises was seen in the North West, which also has the highest rate of hospitalisations, at 15.9 per 100,000 people.
In Merseyside, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which includes Wirral Women & Children’s Hospital Clatterbridge and Arrowe Park, saw an increase of 153%.
Forty-eight patients were admitted in the week up to June 26, up from 19 the week before.
St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which includes St Helens and Whiston hospital, also saw a rise in COVID admissions, just below the national average, at 31%.
Sixty-four patients were admitted in the week up to June 26, up from 49 the week before.
While Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, which includes hospitals in both districts, recorded a -6% decrease.
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which includes Aintree, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen hospitals, recorded a decrease of -8%
One hundred and forty nine patients were admitted in the week up to June 26, down from 162 the week before.