As we’ve been reporting the latest figures from the ONS show
further big increases in Covid infection levels across the UK.

While the rate for England of about 1 person in 30 testing positive is
currently still only about half the level seen in the previous two Omicron
waves, a third wave in relatively quick succession will inevitably put even
more pressure on the health system, says John Roberts, of the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group.

“We can already see that pressure
with Covid admission figures, which have tripled since the start of June and
are now running at over 1,200 a day in England, and can be expected to rise
further,” he tells the BBC.

“Fortunately, the rise in intensive care occupancy and deaths have been
much less steep, and remain at low levels, although these are now starting to
pick up too.

“About a fifth of the admissions
are cases where the person has picked up an infection while in hospital,
itself a concern, since hospitals have been relaxing restrictions including mask
wearing in recent weeks, which some are now rapidly reversing.”

But it’s important to remember about two-thirds of patients who test positive in hospital are being treated not primarily for Covid but for another reason.

The focus should not just be
on admissions, Roberts says, “with a lot yet to understand in terms of longer term health
issues arising from infection”.

While the
government is keen not to reintroduce any formal restrictions, Roberts suggests people may consider
following advice to be cautious tweeted by Meaghan Kall, the lead Covid epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency this morning.

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