The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 has increased in recent days, as the Indian variant of the coronavirus continues to spread in parts of the country.
According to Public Health England, hospital admissions have increased in some of the affected areas – but by how much and how current data on hospital admissions and patients compare to the kind of numbers seen earlier this year ?
Here is a summary of the latest figures for England at national and local level, based on analysis by the PA news agency.
The bigger picture for England suggests that hospital admissions for Covid-19 are broadly stable, with no clear evidence of an upward trend.
A total of 88 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in England on May 25, according to NHS England, up from 98 the day before.
The seven-day admissions average is also 88, down from 76 a week earlier.
But it remains below the level seen at the start of this month, when admissions averaged 95.
At the height of the second wave in January, daily admissions averaged 3,812.
Meanwhile, there were 742 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 at 8 a.m. on May 27: below the seven-day average of 757, and below the start-of-month average (1,261).
He is also well below the average at the peak of the second wave, which was 33,594.
Figures for England may mask trends at the local level – so what does the latest available data on individual hospital trusts show?
Of the 135 acute trusts that reported Covid-19 admissions data on May 23 and dealt with coronavirus cases at any time during the second wave of the virus, two-thirds of those trusts (66%, or 89) recorded no admissions.
This is slightly lower than the current seven-day average (90 out of 135 trusts in the week leading up to May 23).
But in early May, the seven-day average for zero admissions was 83 out of 135 trusts – and in early January it was just nine out of 135 trusts.
The data also shows that 36 of 135 trusts (27%) had no admissions in the most recent week, while 23 (17%) had no admissions in the last fortnight.
Among the trusts that reported Covid-19 admissions on May 23, the highest number was eight for the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.
This is the highest total for Manchester since 12 admissions were recorded on May 3 – and it is above the current seven-day average for the trust, which is just three admissions.
In contrast, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust recorded four Covid-19 admissions on May 23: its lowest number since May 18, and slightly below the five-day average.
At the height of the second wave in January, Manchester averaged 39 daily admissions and Bolton averaged 17.
Covid-19 hospital admissions in these regions and other parts of the country where the Indian variant is concentrated – like Bedford and Leicester – are not united to show a steadily increasing trend.
The numbers are also at a very low level, meaning they are subject to daily fluctuations caused by a small handful of new admissions.
This makes it more difficult to detect clear evidence of a steady increase.
– Local patient numbers
It’s a similar picture for the number of hospital patients with Covid-19.
Of the 136 acute trusts that reported Covid-19 patient data on May 25 and treated coronavirus patients at any time during the second wave of the virus, 36 trusts had no patients while 17 only had one.
The patientless number – 36 – is the highest so far this year, as is the equivalent seven-day average (35).
At the beginning of January, only four of these 136 trusts had no Covid-19 patients.
Data shows 22 trusts had no Covid-19 patients on any day in the most recent week, while 16 had no Covid-19 patients in the past fortnight.
Among trusts that reported Covid-19 patients on May 25, the highest number was 41 for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.
That’s up from 24 patients a week earlier, and also above Bolton’s seven-day average, which is currently 34 patients.
But at the height of the second wave in January, Bolton had an average of 147 patients hospitalized each day.
After Bolton, the trust with the most patients on May 25 was the University of Manchester, with 32.
That’s up from 28 a week earlier, and above the seven-day average of 27 patients – but again, well below the second wave high average of 373 patients.
Other trusts that saw a slight increase in patient numbers week over week include Croydon Health Services (eight to 18 patients), Pennine Acute Hospitals (12 to 19) and East Lancashire Hospitals (eight to 15) .
In each case, the numbers are still well below levels seen in March and April, and rising from a very low base – meaning it is too early to say whether they represent the start of a clear upward trend.
While it is true that hospital admissions have increased in parts of England, all data suggests that it remains – for now – a localized reaction to a localized spread of the coronavirus.