The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in two regions of southern England are heading towards levels recorded at the peak of the first wave of the virus, figures show.
In south-east England, 1,547 hospital patients with confirmed Covid-19 were reported on December 9.
This is the highest number for the region since the end of April.
During the first wave, the number of patients in south-east England peaked at 2,073 on April 7.
At the current rate of increase, levels could be above this within a fortnight.
It is a similar picture in eastern England.
Here, 1,063 patients were reported on December 9 – again, the highest since the end of April.
The first-wave peak in eastern England was 1,484 patients on April 12.
On the current trend, this could be surpassed by the end of the month.
The first-wave peak of Covid-19 hospital patients has already been surpassed in four other regions.
On November 16 new records were set in both north-east England, Yorkshire and north-west England, while the Midlands reached a new peak on November 23 followed by south-west England on November 24.
Only in London is the level of Covid-19 patients still well below that seen during the first wave of the virus.
The latest number recorded in the capital is 1,582 on December 9, while the first-wave peak was 4,813 on April 8.
All figures are taken from the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.