Covid infections have surged by more than a third in a week, according to official figures that show up to one in every 28 people are infected in the country’s worst-hit boroughs.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysts estimate 1.5million-plus individuals in England were carrying the virus on any given day in the week up to October 3. 

Cases jumped more than 36 per cent on the 1.1million recorded the week before. They also surged in Wales and Northern Ireland but the trend was ‘uncertain’ in Scotland, experts said.

Infection rates were highest in older age groups, who are most vulnerable, with 3.7 per cent of over-70s carrying the virus.

Health chiefs have already started to crank up their Covid advice in response to the trend, urging unwell Britons not to see elderly relatives. 

NHS hospitals themselves have already reimposed mask rules for visitors and patients. Others have brought back social distancing guidelines, in scenes reminiscent of the darkest days of the pandemic.

Covid was most prevalent in Cumbria, according to the data released today. Some 3.57 per cent of people living in Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland were infected.

However, latest Government data shows coronavirus hospitalisations may already be slowing down. Some 1,275 people were admitted with it on October 10, down 5 per cent on the 1,344 a week before.

Experts who have correctly predicted the state of the pandemic in the past told MailOnline the current wave ‘seems to have peaked’.

more videos

Office for National Statistics (ONS) statisticians estimate more than 1.5million people in England were infected on any given day in the week up to October 3 Office for National Statistics (ONS) statisticians estimate more than 1.5million people in England were infected on any given day in the week up to October 3

Office for National Statistics (ONS) statisticians estimate more than 1.5million people in England were infected on any given day in the week up to October 3

Cases were highest in most vulnerable older age groups, who will need 'close monitoring as we move through the colder months', experts warned Cases were highest in most vulnerable older age groups, who will need 'close monitoring as we move through the colder months', experts warned

Cases were highest in most vulnerable older age groups, who will need ‘close monitoring as we move through the colder months’, experts warned

Latest Government data shows Covid hospitalisations may already be slowing down. Some 1,275 people were admitted with the virus on October 10, down 5 per cent on the 1,344 a week before Latest Government data shows Covid hospitalisations may already be slowing down. Some 1,275 people were admitted with the virus on October 10, down 5 per cent on the 1,344 a week before

Latest Government data shows Covid hospitalisations may already be slowing down. Some 1,275 people were admitted with the virus on October 10, down 5 per cent on the 1,344 a week before

Around 10,6000 Covid-infected patients were in hospital beds as of 8am on Wednesday, the latest date data is available for. This was up 10 per cent on the week before Around 10,6000 Covid-infected patients were in hospital beds as of 8am on Wednesday, the latest date data is available for. This was up 10 per cent on the week before

Around 10,6000 Covid-infected patients were in hospital beds as of 8am on Wednesday, the latest date data is available for. This was up 10 per cent on the week before

There were 221 Covid patients in ICU mechanical ventilation patients on October 12, according to the latest UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data There were 221 Covid patients in ICU mechanical ventilation patients on October 12, according to the latest UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data

There were 221 Covid patients in ICU mechanical ventilation patients on October 12, according to the latest UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data

Nurses can leave ‘if they want to’ Therese Coffey says 

NHS nurses unhappy with their pay are free to leave, Therese Coffey has claimed as the threat of devastating strikes inch closer.

The Health Secretary has already said the Government will not cough up extra cash to prevent the first ever UK-wide nursing walk-out.

Doubling down on her position with another explosive jibe, Dr Coffey said No10 has ‘already’ helped the public cope with the cost-of-living crisis. She added that nurses have also been offered £1,400, in reality.

Union bosses are demanding nurses get a salary uplift of at least five per cent above inflation, which currently sits at 12.3 per cent.

This would grant the average nurse, who earns roughly £35,600 each year according to the Government, an extra £6,150. But bowing to the union could cost taxpayers an extra £1billion.

When asked about British nurses leaving the UK to places such as Australia in search of better pay, Dr Coffey told the Evening Standard they are welcome to go and that the UK can recruit more from overseas.

‘It is their choice of course if they want to do that,’ she added. ‘But then we also have an open route for people to come into this country who are professional staff.’

Last week the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) began balloting its 300,000 members working in the NHS, urging them to vote for strike action for the first time in its 106-year history.

Sarah Crofts, deputy director for the ONS Covid Infection Survey, said: ‘Infections have risen again across much of the United Kingdom, continuing the pattern of steady increases seen over recent weeks, although Scotland and the North East of England had uncertain trends in the latest week.

‘We have also seen another notable rise in infections amongst older age groups in England and Wales, underlining once again the need for close monitoring as we move through the colder months.’

After the areas in Cumbria, Tameside in Greater Manchester had the highest infection rate in the UK, with 3.31 per cent carrying the virus during the week.

It was followed by Halton, Warrington and Trafford in Greater Manchester (3.26 per cent), Cheshire West and Chester (3.22 per cent) and Boston, East Lindsey, Lincoln, North Kesteven, South Holland, South Kesteven, West Lindsey in Lincolnshire (also 3.22 per cent).

For comparison, the least affected areas were Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, and South Ayrshire in Scotland, where 1.43 per cent were infected.

In total, 109,700 people had the virus in Scotland, down 3 per cent on the 113,000 recorded the week before. 74,900 had it in Wales, while 45,100 did in Northern Ireland.

Across the UK, Covid was most prevalent in people aged 70 and over, with 3.7 per cent in the age group infected.

They were followed by 50- to 69-year-olds (3 per cent), 16- to 24-year-olds (2.9 per cent) and 25- to 49-year-olds (2.7 per cent).  

Children in school years seven to 11 had the lowest infection rate, with just 1.5 per cent of pupils struck down with the virus. 

Despite climbing cases in most of the country, more recent hospitalisation data suggests virus admissions are falling in England. 

Around 10,600 Covid-infected patients were in hospital beds as of 8am on Wednesday, the latest date data is available for. This was up 10 per cent on the week before.

However, the numbers include patients who caught the virus in hospital or were admitted for other reasons like a broken leg and happened to be infected. 

And the rate at which they are increasing appears to be slowing down. The week-on-week change has fallen every day since October 1, when they jumped 40 per cent.

The hospital figures suggest the worst of the current wave may already have passed, say experts. 

Trends in admissions usually follow infection data after around two weeks — the time it takes for the virus to take hold — but accurate case numbers have been impossible to predict since the end of mass testing earlier this year. 

Professor Paul Hunter, a public health expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline: ‘It is the first wave not being driven by a new variant so was difficult to predict. 

‘Having said that it seems to have peaked a lot earlier than I would have expected.

‘But as any infectious agent that does not generate lifelong immunity approaches its “endemic equilibrium” it does so in a series of smaller waves, unless a new variant makes a big difference and so far nothing on horizon. 

‘BA.2.75 is drifting up but not really outcompeting BA.5. So, probably the current wave peaked in first week of October at a rather lower level than previous Omicron waves. 

‘Yes we will see another waves at sometime — no idea when — but likely also to be smaller yet again unless a new variant appears by then.’

In total, 109,700 people had the virus in Scotland, down 3 per cent on the 113,000 recorded the week before. 74,900 had it in Wales, while 45,100 did in Northern Ireland. In total, 109,700 people had the virus in Scotland, down 3 per cent on the 113,000 recorded the week before. 74,900 had it in Wales, while 45,100 did in Northern Ireland.

In total, 109,700 people had the virus in Scotland, down 3 per cent on the 113,000 recorded the week before. 74,900 had it in Wales, while 45,100 did in Northern Ireland.

Covid was most prevalent in the South West and West Midlands (3.1 per cent), while London had the lowest rates in England (2.4 per cent) Covid was most prevalent in the South West and West Midlands (3.1 per cent), while London had the lowest rates in England (2.4 per cent)

Covid was most prevalent in the South West and West Midlands (3.1 per cent), while London had the lowest rates in England (2.4 per cent)

Despite slowing hospitalisations, some experts have raised concerns about the continued rise in cases and warned people to wear face masks when inside. 

Professor Denis Kinane, an immunologist and founding scientist at Cignpost Diagnostics, said: ‘With all the other political challenges facing the Government and the pressures on the NHS, the last thing anyone wants is a surge in Covid infections. 

‘But these latest figures, one in 35 infected with the virus in England, show a sharp uptick in the virus’ transmissibility and are deeply concerning. No one wants to see a return of lockdowns and stringent restrictions. 

‘We need to adopt responsible practices to prevent a winter surge and the risk of overwhelming the NHS. 

‘Reasonable precautions include using face masks in enclosed space, especially at mass participation events, getting tested in case of appearance of even minor symptoms, avoid socialising in crowded indoor venues, and maintaining adequate social distancing when interacting with vulnerable or immunocompromised individuals.’

Despite Covid fears starting to mount once again, ministers have made no hint that any return of pandemic-era curbs are on the horizon. 

Boris Johnson’s Government lifted all remaining pandemic curbs in spring, as the success of vaccine rollouts and high immunity in the population meant the UK could ‘learn to live with Covid and end Government regulation’.

The former Prime Minister noted that the Government may reimpose measures if a new variant emerged that placed ‘unsustainable pressure’ on the NHS.

However, the UK has remained restriction-free since then, despite two more Covid peaks, and new PM Liz Truss has said she would not bring in a lockdown.

She labelled the restrictions brought in under Mr Johnson — including three shutdowns, school closures and work from home measures — as ‘draconian’ and said the Government ‘did too much’.

In previous lockdowns, the threat of unsustainable pressure on the NHS was the key metric used to decide whether the restriction was required.