Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis estimated 3.3million people were infected on any given day during the week to December 31, up more than 60 per cent on the previous spell.
It means one in 15 people were thought to have the virus during the week, with the incidence even higher in London where one in 10 are estimated to have been infected.
And the numbers were higher still in some of the worst hit parts of the capital, with statisticians giving an upper estimate of 18 per cent of people being infected in Tower Hamlets in the south of the city.
But despite the huge wave of cases caused by the Omicron variant in London, early sign suggest infections are falling, with around 7.8 per cent of people thought to have the virus — down from 9.3 per cent the previous week.
Experts believe infections may have already peaked in the capital, which saw the supermutant variant become dominant first, in a positive sign for the rest of the country.
The ONS’ weekly infection survey is regarded as the most reliable indicator of the UK’s outbreak because it uses random sampling of around 100,000 people, rather than relying on people coming forward to be tested.
More up to date case data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows positive tests fell for the first time in XXX across the UK yesterday.
Nearly 40% of NHS Covid ‘patients’ in England are NOT being treated for virus
Nearly four in ten Covid patients in hospitals in England are not primarily being treated for the virus, according to official data that highlights the mildness of Omicron.
It means nearly 40 per cent of patients included in the Government’s daily Covid statistics may have been admitted for something else, such as a broken leg.
The share of so-called ‘incidental’ cases was even bigger in Omicron hotspot London, where 45 per cent of ‘Covid patients’ were not primarily in hospital for the virus.
Experts say there is reason to believe that incidentals will continue to rise as the variant pushes England’s infection rates to record highs, with one in 15 people estimated to have had Covid on New Year’s Eve.
In South Africa — ground zero of the Omicron outbreak — up to 60 per cent of Covid patients were not admitted primarily for the virus at the height of the crisis there.
There are growing calls among experts and politicians for the Government to differentiate between people admitted ‘with’ and ‘from’ Covid to assess the real pressure of the virus on the NHS.
The ONS data shows London no longer has the highest infection rate in the country, with the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and North East overtaking the capital.
But several boroughs in the city still far exceed most of the rest of England on a more local level, with the City of London, Hackney and Islington having the second highest rate, with a maximum of 16.4 per cent infected.
It was followed by Nottingham (13.8 per cent), but five of the other top ten areas were based in London: Southwark (13.7 per cent), Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth (both 13.5 per cent), Greenwich (13.3 per cent) and Wandsworth (13.2 per cent).
The figures are the ONS statisticians’ upper estimates made for infection rates, meaning the true number with the virus may have in fact been lower.
And the data suggests infections were already falling in the capital, in line with several other data sources suggesting London’s Omicron wave has already peaked.
Infections are still increasing in other regions of the country, however, with the biggest jump seen in the North East, where the rate increased 11 per cent in a week.
After the North West (10.7 per cent), Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest rate with 7.9 per cent, followed by the North east (7.3 per cent) and London (7.2 per cent).
The percentage of people testing positive for Covid continued to increase across all age groups in the week, the ONS said.
Statisticians said: ‘For those in school Year 7 to school Year 11 and those aged between 25 and 49 years, the trend in the percentage testing positive was uncertain in the last few days of 2021.
Video: Palaszczuk warns numbers will rise as QLD covid cases double to 369 (Daily Mail)
‘This may mean that infections are no longer increasing among these age groups, but it is currently too early to suggest if this is a continuing change in trend.
‘Caution should be taken in over-interpreting any small movements in the latest trend.’
Infections were highest in young people aged from school year 12 to 24 years old (8.34 per cent) and those aged 25 to 34 (7.83 per cent) and primary school children (7.72 per cent).
People aged 70 and over had the lowest rate in the country (2.2 per cent) but they saw the highest rise in the country, nearly doubling in a week.
Experts feared cases would increase in the age group over the festive period because of higher levels of intergenerational mixing.
The finding is the latest piece of evidence that the capital’s outbreaks is peaking and comes as daily Covid hospital admissions fell for the fourth day in a row.
The symptom study, led by King’s College London scientists, estimated 33,000 were testing positive in the capital each day in the week to January 3, down a third on the week before.
KCL’s Dr Claire Steves, who co-runs the study, said there was definitely a ‘slow down’ in cases but it was ‘too early’ to confirm if they had peaked. She warned the return of schools could trigger further outbreaks.
In another promising sign, UK Health Security Agency’s weekly Covid surveillance report revealed that London’s cases fell six per cent last week.
They said the capital was no longer the country’s epicentre for the first time since Omicron took hold, with the North West now taking up that mantle, followed by the North East and Yorkshire.
Office for National Statistics figures published yesterday also showed ‘early signs’ that the city’s outbreak was peaking, statisticians said, although they cautioned one in ten Londoners were infected on New Year’s Eve.
Government dashboard data also suggest cases in London are flatlining. There were 21,854 cases in the capital today, down 11 per cent in a week.
Hospital admissions fell for the fourth day in a row. There were 367 Covid hospitalisations on January 4, the latest date with data, marking a 20 per cent fall on the previous week and the largest week-on-week drop yet.
Fewer than 400 people are now being admitted in the capital on average each day compared to around 900 at the peak of the second wave last January.
But scientists say it is difficult to untangle what is happening in the capital because up to four million Londoners leave for Christmas.
Source: Thanks msn.com