The number of COVID patients admitted to hospital in the UK went up by 10% in a week amid concern over the spread of the Indian variant.
Official figures showed an increase in hospital patients with coronavirus from 895 on 18 May, to 954 on 24 May.
When data from 9 to 15 May was compared with 16 to 22 May, there was a 10% jump in hospitalisations.
Total COVID infections are up by 18% week-on-week (WoW).
The rise in hospitalisations was driven by the North West, where numbers have increased 22.5% (WoW).
The area is the worst hit by the Indian variant and has seen a spike in COVID infections.
COVID patients in hospital in England in the last month, by region
The number of people testing positive for the variant leapt by 2,111 to 3,424 in the space of a week, according to data released by Public Health England (PHE) last Thursday.
In England, 151 local authority areas have identified at least one case of the Indian variant, according to figures from the Wellcome Sanger Institute.
Most of the country’s cases are concentrated in areas in the North West and in London, with Bolton reporting the highest overall numbers of cases with 611.
The areas with the highest number of cases in the week to 15 May, the most recent date for which full data is available, also include Blackburn with Darwen (145), Bedford (126) and Leicester (64).
The variant now accounts for 37.2% of cases in England, and is expected to become dominant in the UK, according to England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.
A total of 3,180 new UK cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday, the highest daily number since 12 April.
It is too soon to say whether this is part of a consistent upwards trend, however.
The number of cases reported each day has been broadly flat for the past month, sometimes dipping below 2,000 (most recently on 17 May) but mostly staying between 2,000 and 3,000.
The seven-day rolling average has crept upwards slightly in recent days, but more data is needed to see whether this is the start of a continuous nationwide increase and not simply a short-term response to a spike in cases in a few hotspots.
Separate data for cases by local area suggests that only a small number of places in the UK are currently recording a rise in cases that is greater than the usual day-to-day fluctuation in numbers.
Of the 380 UK local areas, 169 saw a jump in COVID-19 rates in the seven days to 22 May, based on the latest figures available for cases by specimen date.
But of these 169 areas, 113 recorded increases that were in single figures.
By contrast, Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire recorded a week-on-week rise in rates of 168.3 (up from 145.0 cases per 100,000 people to 313.3), Clackmannanshire in Scotland saw a rise of 131.9 (from 29.1 to 161.0), and Bolton in Greater Manchester saw a rise of 125.5 (from 321.7 to 447.2).
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