Covid outbreaks in nursing homes have jumped 50 per cent in a week as older people were urged to spur on.
The latest figures from the UK Health and Safety Agency (UKHSA) show there were 312 outbreaks with at least one linked case testing positive for Covid, compared with 211 the previous week.
Cases are currently rising fastest in those over 80, with experts blaming declining immunity for the latest increases, according to weekly UKHSA surveillance data.
About 16 percent of seniors eligible for a spring booster have yet to come forward and 20 percent of those over 75 have not been vaccinated in the past six months.
The hospital admission rate has also risen from 14.59 per 100,000 population, up from 11.12 the previous week, the figures show, although the number of people needing intensive care remains very low.
Dr Mary Ramsay, director of clinical programs at UKHSA, said: “We continue to see Covid-19 case rates and hospitalizations rising across all age groups, with the largest increases in hospitalizations and ICU admissions in people 75 years of age or older.
“There is likely to be a substantial amount of decreased immunity in older people who have not taken the booster on time, so we can expect these increases to continue for the next few weeks and throughout July.
“Vaccination remains the best defense against serious illness and we urge anyone who is eligible for the spring booster to do so.”
‘The current wave begins to peak’
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also show that infection rates in the community continue to rise, with 1 in 25 people now infected in the week ending June 29, compared to 1 in 30. The last week.
The increases are being largely driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron sub-variants.
There was also a slight increase in outbreaks in educational settings, from seven incidents to nine. Outbreaks in hospitals increased from 27 to 38.
An estimated 2.7 million people would have tested positive in private homes at the end of June, the highest level since the end of April, but still well below the record 4.9 million reached at the end of March. .
The latest figures from the government’s coronavirus panel suggest the increases may be slowing.
Professor Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said: “There are signs that the current wave may be starting to peak: the rise in cases appears to be slowing in the hardest-hit regions, in particularly Scotland. Hopefully, next week’s data will confirm this trend.
“Within the health system, the highest levels of infection occur in those over 70 years of age. This group remains the most vulnerable to serious illness.
“Vaccines continue to provide significant protection, but not all older people have received their fourth or even third dose, increasing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.”
Care home providers said they had noticed an increase in outbreaks and were monitoring the situation, but said most symptoms remained mild. There are currently no plans to reintroduce new restrictions, although some hospitals have reintroduced mask mandates.
A new vaccination program isn’t expected until the fall, when those 65 and older will push again alongside frontline health and social care workers.
Dr. David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, warned that hospital admissions were “rising sharply and are almost at the level of previous peaks this year”.
But he added: “I think there are some indications that they may be getting over it.”