Covid-19 in the UK

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Photo of a woman wearing a face covering as she walks past the Covid Memorial Wall opposite the Palace of Westminster in LondonImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A woman walks past the Covid Memorial Wall opposite the Palace of Westminster in London

The number of people with coronavirus in the UK continues to rise, the latest weekly figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest.

Covid infections increased in England and Scotland while the trend was uncertain in Wales and Northern Ireland, according to the survey.

More than 1.4 million people in the UK, about one-in-45, were infected in the week ending 9 December.

Flu is also on the rise, with hospital admissions in England at their highest level since the winter of 2017-2018.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) stressed the importance of vaccination and urged people who felt unwell not to socialise during the festive season.

"Both Covid and flu can cause severe illness or even death for those most vulnerable in our communities, and so it is also important to avoid contact with other people if you are unwell in order to help stop infections spreading over the Christmas and new year period," said Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Public Health Programmes at the UKHSA.

An autumn Covid booster vaccination programme in England has reached almost two thirds of those aged 50 and over (64%), with 14.9 million people jabbed.

Early flu season

The flu season started early this year and in England, there are more weekly hospital admissions for flu at this point in the season than in recent years. Scotland is dealing with its highest rates of flu since 2017, according to new data from Public Health Scotland (PHS).

The UK saw very little flu at the height of the coronavirus pandemic due to lockdown restrictions that prevented people mixing.

As a result, natural immunity is thought to have declined across the population, prompting the government to push for all those eligible to take up the flu vaccine.

Winter 2017 saw a particularly severe strain of flu, which had a large impact on older people.

Coronavirus cases across the UK

The latest estimates of Covid infections for the week ending 9 December increased from the week before, with an estimated one in every 45 people infected.

Infections increased in London, the South West, the North East, the West Midlands and the South East in the week ending 9 December, the ONS said.

The percentage of people testing positive decreased in the East of England, while the trend was uncertain in the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber and the East Midlands.

Covid-19 levels were highest among those aged 25 to 34, with an estimated 2.8% of people in this age group in England infected, according to the survey.

Hospital numbers

As of 15 December, the latest government figures for the whole of the UK show 8,571 people with coronavirus were in hospital, which is about 1,500 more than a week earlier.

More recent figures for England show 8,643 people in hospital with coronavirus as of 21 December - almost 2,000 more than the previous week.

There were 1,296 hospital admissions with coronavirus on 21 December in England, compared with roughly 2,000 per day in early July during the last surge of Omicron infections.

Weekly Covid deaths

In the week to 9 December, there were 380 new Covid death registrations in the UK, according to official figures.

These include all deaths where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate, even if the person had not been tested for the virus.

Death toll over 210,000

When looking at the overall death toll from coronavirus, official figures count deaths in different ways, each giving a different number.

Government figures - the ones reported by nations - count people who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus. This figure is 199,000, although both Scotland and Northern Ireland have stopped reporting this measure.

According to a count of death certificates that mention Covid-19, the death toll of the virus has climbed above 210,000.

The third measure counts all deaths over and above the expected number since the pandemic began - that figure was over 183,000 as of 9 December. It is sometimes referred to as excess deaths above the long-term average.

Vaccine rollout continuing

More than 53 million people - about 94% of those aged 12 and over in the UK - have received a first dose of a vaccine.

The number of people who have received a second vaccine dose is over 50 million, or 88% of people aged 12 and over.

So far, over 40 million third or booster jabs have been administered across the UK.

As part of a separate autumn booster vaccination roll-out, health authorities are inviting all those aged 50 and over in every UK nation to book a further jab.

Note: We have removed the lookup and interactive map that had been on this page previously. This is because of a combination of reduced testing, changes to the rules on when tests are taken and changes to the data available from the government coronavirus dashboard.