Coronavirus cases have rocketed by 57% in the past week (Picture: PA)
More areas in the UK are expected to be put under the strictest Covid-19 restrictions this week as cases continue to rise across the country.
Millions of more people could be placed in tier four following a scheduled review on Wednesday.
Cases have rocketed by 57% in the past week, with the mutant strain, which is 70% more infectious, being blamed for the steep rise, the Sunday Times reports.
A second variant thought to have originated in South Africa could also lead to an increase in cases.
Figures for the seven days to December 23 showed 282 out of 315 local areas in England have seen a rise in infection rates, with Essex still the worst affected.
Brentwood in Essex has the highest rate in England, with 1,111 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 23 – the equivalent of 1,442.5 cases per 100,000 people.
This is a sharp rise from 886.8 in the seven days to December 16.
More areas are expected to be placed in tier four (Picture: PA)
The coronavirus growth rates (Picture: PA)
Covid hospital admissions are also set to pass the previous peak of 21,683 patients in April.
They stood at 21,286 as of December 22, according to government data.
The UK reported 30,501 new cases on Sunday, with a further 316 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
Independent Sage member Dr Zubaida Haque asked on Sunday why the government has not put the whole of England into the highest tier.
She tweeted: ‘Given that we surpassed 70,000 #COVID19 deaths in UK on Christmas Day, and there are now more patients with coronavirus in hospital than at any point in the pandemic, why hasn’t the government implemented #tier4 restrictions everywhere in the UK? @IndependentSage are very worried.
‘Given the crisis situation we’re in with the highest number of daily deaths with #COVID19 in 2nd wave, with 1000’s more likely to be infected because of relaxation of rules in tier 1-3 on Christmas Day AND failed govt’s test & trace system, we need #tier4 everywhere now to save lives.’
Thre are currently four tiers of restrictions (Picture: PA)
Hospitals have seen ‘a real rise in pressure’ in tier four areas including London and the South in the past days, NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery has said.
She told the BBC: ‘We’re seeing a real rise in the pressure for hospital services, but also other types of NHS services as well… ambulance trusts in particular are coming under extreme pressure, as are community and mental health services…
‘Part of the issue is many more people coming through the door with Covid, but also people coming through the door with other conditions as well.’
Ms Cordery said the spread of coronavirus among communities ‘impacts hugely’ on staffing levels across the NHS.
London Ambulance Service said Boxing Day had been one of its ‘busiest ever’ days.
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