The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 has increased in recent days, as the Indian variant of coronavirus continues to spread in certain parts of the country.
Hospital admissions have increased in some of the affected areas, according to Public Health England – but by how much, and how does the current data for hospital admissions and patients compare with the sort of numbers seen earlier this year?
Here is a summary of the latest figures for England at a national and local level, based on analysis by the PA news agency.
The overall picture for England suggests Covid-19 hospital admissions are broadly flat, with no clear evidence of an upwards trend.
A total of 88 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in England on May 25, according to NHS England, down from 98 the previous day.
The seven-day average for admissions is also 88, and this is up from 76 a week earlier.
But it is still below the level seen at the start of this month, when admissions were averaging 95.
At the peak of the second wave in January, daily admissions were averaging 3,812.
Meanwhile, there were 742 patients in hospital with Covid-19 as of 8am on May 27: below the seven-day average of 757, and below the average for the start of the month (1,261).
It is also well below the average at the peak of the second wave, which was 33,594.
The numbers for England can conceal trends at a local level – so what does the latest available data show about individual hospital trusts?
– Local admissions
Of the 135 acute trusts that reported data for Covid-19 admissions on May 23, and which handled coronavirus cases at any point during the second wave of the virus, two-thirds of these trusts (66%, or 89) recorded no admissions.
This is slightly below the current seven-day average (90 out of 135 trusts in the week to May 23).
But at the start of May, the seven-day average for zero admissions was 83 out of 135 trusts – and at the start of January it was just nine of 135 trusts.
The data also shows that 36 of the 135 trusts (27%) had no admissions on any day during the most recent week, while 23 (17%) had no admissions during the last fortnight.
Of those trusts that did report Covid-19 admissions on May 23, the highest number was eight for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.
This is the highest total for Manchester since 12 admissions were recorded on May 3 – and it is above the current seven-day average for the trust, which is just three admissions.
By contrast, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust recorded four Covid-19 admissions on May 23: its lowest number since May 18, and slightly below the seven-day average of five.
At the peak of the second-wave in January, Manchester was averaging 39 daily admissions and Bolton was averaging 17.
Covid-19 hospital admissions in these areas and other parts of the country where the Indian variant is concentrated – such as Bedford and Leicester – are not united in showing a consistent upwards trend.
The numbers are also at a very low level, meaning they are subject to day-to-day fluctuations caused by a tiny handful of new admissions.
This makes it harder to detect clear evidence of a steady increase.
– Local patient numbers
It is a similar picture for the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19.
Of the 136 acute trusts that reported data for Covid-19 patients on May 25, and which handled coronavirus patients at any point during the second wave of the virus, 36 trusts had no patients while 17 had just one patient.
The number with no patients – 36 – is the highest so far this year, as is the equivalent seven-day average (35).
At the start of January, just four of these 136 trusts had no Covid-19 patients.
The data shows that 22 trusts had no Covid-19 patients on any day during the most recent week, while 16 had no Covid-19 patients during the last fortnight.
Of those trusts that did report Covid-19 patients on May 25, the highest number was 41 for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.
This is up from 24 patients a week earlier, and also above Bolton’s seven-day average, which is currently 34 patients.
But at the peak of the second wave in January, Bolton was averaging 147 patients in hospital each day.
After Bolton, the trust with the highest number of patients on May 25 was Manchester University, with 32.
This is up from 28 a week earlier, and above the seven-day average of 27 patients – but again, well below the second-wave peak average of 373 patients.
Other trusts that have seen a small rise in patients week-on-week include Croydon Health Services (from eight to 18 patients), Pennine Acute Hospitals (12 to 19) and East Lancashire Hospitals (eight to 15).
In each case, the numbers are still well below levels seen during March and April, and are increasing from a very low base – meaning it is too soon to say if they represent the start of a clear upwards trend.
While it is true hospital admissions have risen in some parts of England, all the data suggests this remains – for now – a localised reaction to a localised spread of coronavirus.