Covid case rates hit highest ever level in England, influential study finds 3 months ago

Covid case rates hit highest ever level in England, influential study finds

Covid case rates are rising in over-55s, those most at risk from the virus

Covid case rates are at their highest ever level in England, with more than 6 percent of the population having the virus between March 8 and March 31.

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Two new variants of Omicron contributed to surges in cases since the start of the year, according to Imperial College London's React study.

The BA.1 and BA.2 variants caused peaks in January and last month.

In January, an estimated 4.4 percent of England's population had covid-19, but in March this figure rose to 6.37 percent, an all-time high.

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And according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), almost 5 million people in the UK had covid in the week ending March 26.

Although data suggests that case rates are flattening out in younger age groups, there is concern that the opposite appears to be happening for over-55s, the BBC reports.

The study also shows that hospital admissions have gone up, a trend that experts fear may continued due to "high and increasing prevalence in older adults".

The research suggests that on March 31, 8.31 percent of over-55s would have tested positive for covid. This is nearly 20 times the average case rate for this age group since the React study started in May 2020.

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Professor Paul Elliott, director of the REACT programme from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “These trends are concerning since when a very high number of people are infected, this may lead to more people becoming seriously ill and needing to go to hospital.

“Although restrictions have ended, I would urge people to still behave cautiously to help protect others who might be vulnerable, and avoid contact with other people if you have symptoms.

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Along with an increase in socialising, it's thought that waning protection from the booster jab that many received in November and December could be another reason for rising covid case rates.

The BA.2 variant is now the dominant one in the UK and is thought to be responsible for 90 percent of cases.

Despite the rising cases, this is the last report from the React study, with the covid surveillance programme being scrapped as part of the government's plans to stop funding a number of research projects and cut covid costs.

The React study has been in place since the first wave of the pandemic, testing more than 100,000 individuals at random in England most months.

The ONS will still be conducting its weekly covid survey, but this is being downsized.

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On April 1, free covid testing was also brought to an end as part of the government's plan for living with the virus.

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