Fermanagh and Omagh area is new Covid blackspot
FERMANAGH and Omagh have the highest Covid rates of any local authority in the UK, new figures have revealed.
The blackspot statistics also show that Northern Ireland and Wales are experiencing the biggest spike in infections since January.
For the week ending August 18, there was a total of 1,003.9 cases per 100,000 people living in the Fermanagh and Omagh areas - which last year had some of the lowest rates.
It is the first time that any local authority in the north has recorded rates over 1,000 since comparable records began in summer 2020, when mass testing was first introduced.
While cases are beginning to rise again in England, the north has witnessed a surge in cases and hospital admissions over the past six weeks.
At the beginning of last month, Chief Medical Officer Sir Michael McBride said there was "no doubt" a fourth wave was underway.
Meanwhile, analysis by the PA news agency shows that around two-thirds of all local authority areas in Britain are currently recording an increase in case rates, including every area in Wales.
The north's rate of new cases stands at 579.5 per 100,000 people, the highest since January 8 while Wales is now at 297.4 per 100,000, the highest since January 16.
In Scotland, rates are also rising sharply, but are currently below the levels reached earlier in its 'third wave' at the start of July.
England is the only region where rates are currently rising slowly rather than sharply, with 323.8 cases per 100,000 in the week to August 18 - up from 306.9 a week earlier.
Cases across the UK began to rise from the end of May and spiked in July, although on different dates - this was followed by a partial fall in cases and a levelling off; then came a renewed increase in cases in August, which was sharp enough in Wales and Northern Ireland to overtake the spike in July.
A total of 6,441 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital in the UK as of August 19.
This is up nine per cent on the previous week and is the highest number for five months.
But it is a long way below the 39,254 patients who were in hospital at the peak of the second wave on January 18 - the highest for any day since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the average number of UK deaths reported each day of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 currently stands at 98.
This compares with a peak of 1,248 on January 23.
The vaccine rollout in England is estimated to have directly averted between 91,700 and 98,700 deaths, together with more than 82,100 hospital admissions.
Vaccination rates vary, particularly among young people, however.
Northern Ireland is estimated to have given a first jab to only 68 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds, compared with 71 per cent in England, 73 per cent in Scotland and 76 per cent in Wales.