Coronavirus infections among people over 70 in the UK rose to a record high in mid-March due to the highly contagious Omicron BA.2 sub-variant, according to the Office for Statistics, according to the Office for National Statistics. National Statistics.
Almost 3.3 million people infected with Covid-19 for the week ending March 12, up 26% from the previous week and the highest level on record since mid-February.
Infection rates skyrocketed in every part of the UK, with the exception of Northern Ireland. Scotland recorded its highest ever pandemic infection rate, with one in 14 people infected with the virus in the week to mid-March, up from 18 a week earlier. In the UK, one in 20 people contracted coronavirus during the same period, compared with one in 25 a week earlier.
An increase in infections has begun to contribute to the increase in hospital admissions. As of March 17, there were 14,671 Covid patients in hospitals across the UK, up 38% over the past two weeks.
Sarah Crofts, head of analysis for the ONS infection survey, notes that people over 70, the age group most vulnerable to severe illness, have “[reached] their highest estimate” since the survey began in summer 2020. In the UK, one in 30 people over the age of 70 contracted Covid within the seven days to 12 March.
“These increases were largely driven by a marked increase in the Omicron BA.2 subvariant,” she said.
Experts believe the wave of infections is being fueled by behavioral caution that dwindles concurrently with an increase in prevalence of branch BA.230% more infectious than the original Omicron.
The surge in infections comes as Britain prepares to end free mass Covid testing from the end of the month after removing legal restrictions at the end of February.
James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute and professor of structural biology at Oxford predicts: “At this level of prevalence and the decision not to stop the spread, the most likely outcome is almost all of those susceptible people will be infected. University. “My main concern is for the vulnerable people to whom this disease is serious and whose lives will be ravaged by prolonged Covid-19.”
Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modeling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that ending self-isolation in force in the UK would make the wave “more difficult to contain as fewer and fewer people get sick.” at home”.
On March 16, UK hospitals recorded 1,823 Covid hospitalizations, up 20% from the same day last week and the highest daily number since January 13.
But a large proportion of registered Covid patients do not receive treatment primarily for the disease and instead, test positive incidentally after hospitalization. In the UK, they make up 56% of Covid patients.
In Scotland, the number of Covid patients is only slightly below the January 2021 peak of 2,053. As of Friday, there were 2,050 hospital beds in use by Covid patients.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents healthcare leaders in the UK, said: “There had been expectations that there would be an upswing when measures were lifted, but people did not expect such a rapid increase. “We need to keep a close watch. There is a risk that people have been lulled into a false sense of security.”
She added that the NHS “doesn’t currently expect” the wave of critical incidents to have been declared before Christmas, “but we won’t be as quick as we would like with the restoration of the backlog”.
Other countries of the UK have also begun easing restrictions in recent weeks, but on Tuesday the Scottish government postponed the end of mandatory mask wearing until April, citing the reason concerns about BA.2.