The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital in England has fallen below 10,000 for the first time since the end of last year.
A total of 9,804 patients were in hospital as of 8am on February 16, according to NHS England.
This is down 11 per cent from the previous week, and is the lowest since December 28.
The number had climbed as high as 17,120 on January 10 – although this was still only half the total recorded at the peak of the second wave of coronavirus in early 2021.
Hospital numbers in England have been on a broadly downwards trend for the past few weeks, following a sharp rise over Christmas and the new year.
The increase had been driven by the Omicron variant of the virus, which saw the number of infections across England reach a record high.
But patient levels remained well below those seen in previous waves, thanks chiefly to the rapid rollout of booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine.
An estimated 105,600 Covid-19 hospital admissions among people aged 25 and over were prevented in England between December 13 2021 and February 6 2022 due to the “direct effect” of the booster vaccination campaign, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
Around a half of all Covid-19 patients in hospital trusts in England are being treated primarily for something else, up from a quarter in the autumn of last year.
All patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 need to be treated separately from those who do not have the virus, regardless of whether they are in hospital primarily for Covid or not.
But the growing proportion of patients who are in hospital “with” Covid-19 rather than “for” Covid-19 is another sign that the current wave of the virus has not led to the same sort of pressure on critical care as in previous waves .
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