Eight more Covid deaths in Sunderland as infections rise

Eight more people in Sunderland have died from coronavirus as hospitals deal with an increase in patients and the infection rate in England climbed to the highest level since the start of the year.

New figures from the UK coronavirus dashboard show 1,236 people in the city have now died because of the virus as of March 9 – up from 1,228 the week before.

They were among 10,399 deaths recorded across the North East and 186,218 throughout England.

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Data from NHS England also shows hospital staff in Sunderland and South Tyneside were caring for 147 patients with the virus as of Wednesday, March 22 – up from 141 on the same day the previous week.

The number of beds at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust occupied by people who tested positive for Covid-19 has increased by 20% in the last four weeks.

There were 8,387 people in English hospitals with Covid, with 172 of them in mechanical ventilation beds – five per cent higher than four weeks ago.

The figures emerged as the final official estimates of Covid-19 show the infection rate in England has climbed to its highest level since the start of the year.

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An estimated 1.5 million people were likely to have had coronavirus in the week ending March 13 – up from 1.3 million the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Rise in new Covid patients in hospitals.Rise in new Covid patients in hospitals.
Rise in new Covid patients in hospitals.

This is the highest total since the week to January 3, when there were 2.2 million.

This is the last time regular estimates of coronavirus are being published. The long-running infection survey - dubbed the "envy of the world" for its success in tracking the virus - has been halted.

Any further monitoring will be announced after a review to ensure it is "cost effective", according to the UK Health Security Agency.

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Michelle Bowen, ONS head of health surveillance dissemination, said: "This week's data shows infections are rising in England, with the trend uncertain across the rest of the UK.”

The infection survey has run continuously for nearly three years - provided a snapshot of the true spread of the virus, which was often underestimated by Government figures.