New data shows increases in both Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes and hospital admissions

Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes are rising while hospital admissions among the very elderly are showing early signs of an increase, new figures suggest.

The number of suspected outbreaks of coronavirus across the UK in the week ending June 12 was 221, up from 96 the previous week and the highest since the start of May.

There were 153 outbreaks detected in care homes, up week on week from 67, with 102 outbreaks having a least one linked case that tested positive for Covid-19.

Health experts said they were assessing whether the rise could reflect the impact of new Omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5, which were recently classed “variants of concern” and have been linked with an increase in prevalence of the virus in parts of the UK.

The figures, from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), also show the rate of hospital admissions of people with Covid-19 among the over-85s was 52.7 per 100,000 in the most recent week, up from 41.9 and the second weekly rise in a row.

Admissions in this age group peaked at 212.1 per 100,000 earlier this year, during the wave of infections driven by the Omicron BA.2 variant.

The overall hospital admission rate for England stood at 6.1 per 100,000 people, up from 4.7.

Dr Mary Ramsay, UKHSA director of clinical programmes, said: “After a period of low case rates, we are now seeing increases in outbreaks within care homes and in hospitalisations among those aged 80 years and over.

“It is encouraging that we are not seeing an increase in intensive care unit admissions but we are monitoring data closely and assessing the possible impact of subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

“As we enter summer, it’s still important to remember that Covid-19 has not gone away and to get vaccinated to reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill with the virus.”

Figures published last week by the Office for National Statistics showed Covid-19 levels in the UK were no longer falling, with increases in some parts of the country likely to have been caused by a jump in infections compatible with BA.4 and BA.5.

Prevalence of the virus is still well below the record-high levels reached during the BA.2 wave, however.

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