UK Covid live: record-breaking 88,376 new cases reported as pregnant women made priority for jabs | Politics

Covid case rates for London and eastern England have risen to their highest level since early January, new figures show.

A total of 702.8 new cases per 100,000 people were recorded in London in the week to 12 December. This is up sharply from 475.8 the previous week and is the highest rate for the capital since the week to 10 January.

The rise has been driven by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, with some boroughs in London currently experiencing the steepest increase in rates of any local authorities in the UK.

Omicron has already become the dominant variant of the virus in the capital, but is now having an impact in other parts of the country.

Eastern England’s rate stands at 616.5 cases per 100,000, up week-on-week from 563.2 and the highest since the week to 10 January.

North-west England has recorded a small week-on-week rise, up from 412.2 to 430.0.

All other regions have recorded a slight fall, however.

The figures, from the UK Health Security Agency, show rates are currently highest among five to nine-year-olds, at 1,021.4 cases per 100,000 – down slightly week-on-week from 1,086.3.

Rates have also dropped among 10 to 19-year-olds, from 922.6 to 846.7.

But they have risen sharply for 20 to 29-year-olds, up from 390.2 to 625.9, and for 30 to 39-year-olds, from 595.3 to 734.5.

For people aged 80 and over the rate continues to be low, at 69.5, broadly unchanged from 69.3.

The rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England stood at 7.1 per 100,000 people in the week to 12 December, up from 6.7 the previous week.

Admission rates continue to be highest among people aged 85 and over, at 33.9 per 100,000 – down slightly from 35.5.