The number of Covid patients in hospitals across England has risen by 20% in the past seven days, according to new NHS data.
According to figures released on Tuesday, the number of Covid patients in English hospitals is at its highest since January 31.
NHS leaders have warned that Covid-19 currently accounts for 30% of staff absences and that the government “cannot cover its ears and pretend the threat is gone”.
However, the latest NHS figures also showed daily admissions to March 20 stood at 1,793, down slightly from the previous day when 1,813 patients were admitted with Covid.
Overall, the Covid-19 admissions rate for England is still rising, but rising at a slower rate.
The number of Covid patients in intensive care beds across England rose slightly, to 296 patients as of March 22, the highest number since February 23.
Across the UK, infections rose 20% to 592,459 on Tuesday, while the number of patients admitted to hospitals across the country rose 21%. This is a slower rate of increase than seen the previous week.
The number of coronavirus patients in Scottish hospitals hit a record high for a second consecutive day, with the latest figures showing 2,221 requiring hospital care. This represents an increase of 93 from the total of 2,128 reported on Monday, with 37 new deaths also reported.
In Wales, the government is considering extending some of its Covid restrictions, Health Minister Baroness Morgan has suggested.
She warned at a Tuesday briefing that there had been a “marked increase” in Covid-19 numbers, driven by Omicron’s new BA.2 variant.
The news comes as hospitals in England continue to report pressure on their beds. A hospital in Dorset warned on Tuesday that it was operating ‘under immense pressure due to very high demand from our emergency department, full wards, rising Covid cases and staffing issues due to the disease and self-isolation”.
As a result, the hospital had to postpone some elective surgeries, he said.
Meanwhile, NHS leaders have raised concerns about the lack of new guidelines for hospitals when it comes to staff testing and infection control measures.
In a statement on Tuesday, the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS trusts, said leaders feared frontline staff would be forced to pay for their own Covid tests once free access to flow tests side will end next week.
They said: “If NHS staff still have to be tested twice a week, they could end up having to pay around £50 a month for the tests. This will add to rising energy bills, gas prices and other costs. NHS leaders fear the impact this will have on lower-paid staff, in particular.
NHS England guidance released earlier this month said patients would not need to confirm they had tested negative before visiting patients in hospitals, but staff would still be required to report details. weekly results.
Hospital chiefs have been promised further details on infection control measures, but have yet to receive anything, The Independent has been said.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Health officials are adamant that continuing to offer free tests to NHS staff is vital given that coronavirus and admissions rates to hospital are still very high and increasing. We know that more NHS workers are having to take leave again due to Covid-19, accounting for 30% of all absences. The government cannot cover its ears and pretend that the threat is gone.
“Faced with a cost of living crisis, many employees simply will not be able to afford to regularly purchase their own tests. Given the huge expectations placed on the NHS to recover their services while facing significant vacancies, staff need to be supported to understand their Covid status, stay healthy and keep transmission in healthcare settings to a minimum.