It is thought one in 17 people had the virus last week, up from one in 19 the previous week. Some 3.8 million people in households were infected across the UK, seven per cent more than the week before.
The Office for National Statistics said cases were the highest since mid-April – the peak was 4.9 million in late March.
Kara Steel, its senior statistician, said: “Infections have, overall, continued to increase in England, reaching similar levels to those seen in April during the BA.2 wave.
“It is too early to say if this most recent wave is starting to peak, but we will continue to closely monitor the data.”
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)revealed yesterday that the BA.5 variant accounts for 79 per cent of cases.
Scientists are also keeping a close eye on strain BA.2.75, known as Centaurus, which appears to be spreading rapidly in some countries. Only 24 cases have been detected in the UK.
Dr Meera Chand, the UKHSA’s director of clinical and emerging infections, said: “We continue to monitor the emergence of new variants and give them variant designations if they are sufficiently distinct to warrant separate epidemiological and laboratory assessment.
“It is not unexpected to see new lineages and continued investigation is a normal part of the surveillance of an infectious disease.
“It is important that everyone ensures that they are up to date with all vaccinations that have been offered as they remain our best form of defence against severe illness.”
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