Covid rates rose in September, ONS figures confirm

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Wednesday, 5th October 2022

Covid-19 rates rose in September, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The most recent data from the ONS suggests that infection rates increased by 14% in the week ending September 20th. This represents the most substantial rise since the start of the summer.

Despite the increase in the number of people infected with Covid, representatives from the ONS have stressed that there is not yet a sign of a new wave of infections.
Dr Thomas Waite, the deputy chief medical officer for England, explained that the rise in infection rates could be due to a “number of new sub-variants of Omicron,” which are “circulating at low levels.” In addition to a rise in infection rates, data shows that there has also been an increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid.
New statistics revealed that the daily hospital admission rate has ticked up in the last few weeks. The numbers are higher than rates throughout August and early September. Although there has been a rise in hospital admissions, most people who are in hospital with Covid are undergoing treatment for different conditions or injuries. Around 60% of patients were admitted for other reasons. 

Dr Waite described the increase in hospitalisations as a “wake-up call” and encouraged the public to continue to take steps to reduce the risk of infection. The number of people in hospital with Covid increased by 37% during the week ending on the 20th of September. The average daily admission rate was around 900. The rising numbers are concerning, but figures remain much lower than they were in July, when around 2,000 people were admitted each day. The early summer peak was caused by the growing prevalence of subvariants of Omicron known as B.4 and B.5. These variants spread more rapidly but studies suggest that they do not usually cause more severe symptoms. 
This winter is likely to be another difficult period for the NHS, with some experts predicting a “twindemic” due to both Covid and flu circulating. The NHS is currently rolling out an extensive vaccination programme, providing booster Covid vaccines for the most vulnerable as well as millions of flu jabs. 

The autumn Covid booster scheme kicked off in September. Care home residents were the first to be vaccinated. Others included in the initial phase of the booster rollout include over 75s, health and social care workers and people who have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to severe infection. All over 50s are expected to be offered a booster during the autumn and winter months. Most people who have a booster will be given a new vaccine made by either Pfizer or Moderna. New vaccines have been developed to provide superior protection against the Omicron variant.

The flu vaccine will be available to vulnerable groups, including over 50s, pregnant women, children and people with underlying health problems. The ONS data indicates that Covid infection rates have risen in England and Wales but the figures are less clear in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Infection numbers increased in several regions in England, including the North West, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, the South East and London. Infections have crept up across all age groups. Hospital admissions have increased most noticeably among older demographics. 

Random testing carried out as part of the ONS Covid survey showed that in the week ending September 20th, 1 in 65 people would have tested positive for Covid in England. This represents an increase from 1 in 70 people the week before. The figures are 1 in 50 in Wales, 1 in 45 in Scotland and 1 in 80 people in Northern Ireland. 
The Covid symptom tracker app suggests that the most common symptom people are reporting is a sore throat. Fevers and a loss of smell have become much less prevalent. 
The UK Health Security Agency has warned of an “unpredictable winter” with a “double threat of low immunity and widely circulating flu and Covid-19.”