Coronavirus infection rates continue to grow across all regions of the UK, driven by Omicron subvarants BA.4 and BA.5, new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
A total of 2.7 million people are estimated to have had the virus last week. This is up 18% from the 2.3 million cases in the previous week, marking the highest estimate for total infections since late April.
However, infection levels are still below the record high of 4.9 million which was reached at the end of March. Separate NHS data shows hospitalisations also continue to climb.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Clinical Programmes at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “We continue to see COVID-19 case rates and hospitalisations rise in all age groups, with the largest increases in hospitalisations and ICU admissions in those aged 75 and older.
“There is likely to be a substantial amount of waning immunity in older people who have not taken up the booster on schedule, so we can expect these rises to continue over the coming weeks and throughout July.”
COVID in the Liverpool City Region
In the Liverpool City Region, the worst hit area saw a week-on-week increase just below the national average of 18%, according to the latest monitoring data for the week ending June 29.
The ONS figures are based on regular, large-scale testing of a sample of private households and group nearby areas together.
St Helens, whose figures are collated with Wigan, had a weekly infection rate increase of 17%, with an estimated one in 25 people testing positive for COVID-19.
In Wirral, infections were up by 16%, with an estimated one in 25 people testing positive for coronavirus.
Knowsley, Liverpool and Sefton (grouped with West Lancashire) saw a weekly increase of 16%, with an estimated one in 30 people testing positive COVID.
Halton, grouped together with Warrington and Trafford, saw just a 1% rise in infections, but still had a ratio of 1 in 25 people testing positive.
Nearby Chester saw a huge 38% week-on-week increase in COVID infections, along with Cheshire West.
Liverpool health bosses issue COVID advice
Earlier this week, Liverpool’s Health Protection Board issued new advice to residents and commuters in the city following a ‘sharp rise’ in COVID cases.
Health chiefs said the increase in cases has the potential to disrupt essential services in the city.
Many people who have escaped infection to date are now getting infected for the first time. In addition, one in five people who get infected have previously had the infection.
COVID vaccines remain highly effective in protecting people from serious illness due to these latest variants.
How to protect yourself and others
- The best method of protection is an up to date Covid vaccination and booster. You can still book an appointment online or by calling 119. Alternatively, you canattend a drop-in clinic – where no appointment is needed.
- The risk of catching or passing on Covid is highest in crowded, enclosed and poorly ventilated spaces, so where possible, try and meet outdoors, and let fresh air in if meeting indoors.
- If you cannot avoid a crowded space, wear a face covering. Please wear a face covering when you are visiting the GP, dentist or pharmacy or someone at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell from Covid.
- Keep up good hygiene routines, including washing your hands and covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
- If you have a cough and a high temperature or you don’t feel well enough to carry out normal activities, stay at home if at all possible and away from other people until you feel well, so you don’t pass on infection. If you live with others, keep your home well-ventilated until your symptoms improve.
- If you do go out, wear a mask, avoid public transport and keep your distance from people.
- If you have a positive Covid test result, stay at home if at all possible and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the day you took your test. Avoid contact with people at higher risk of serious illness for 10 days.
- If someone in your household tests positive, there is a high risk you will become infected. It can take up to 10 days for infection to develop. Limit your contact with other people outside your household.
- Wear a face mask if you do need to have close contact with others or if you are in a crowd and stay away from people at higher risk of becoming severely ill - like the elderly or those who are pregnant, the unvaccinated and those with lowered immunity.