New cases of Covid-19 rose significantly in Croydon and Reigate and Banstead according to the latest data released by Public Health England (PHE).

The health authority data showed that Croydon borough reported 144 new cases of Covid-19 in the seven days up to May 20.

That represented an increase of 39 or 37.1 per cent over the time period.

Consequently Croydon's 'rolling rate' of new infections per 100,000 people was reported at 37.2, significantly above the UK average of 24.4.

The uptick in new cases being confirmed chimed with ongoing concerns over the emergence of the Covid-19 variant, known as B1617.2, that was first discovered in India and is considered a highly transmissible strain of the virus.

New infections in neighbouring Reigate and Banstead also showed a sharp increase over the time period.

The borough, which has a far smaller population than Croydon, confirmed 28 new infections, an increase of 17 or 154.5 per cent over the week up to May 20.

Other neighbouring boroughs in South London reported more encouraging figures, however.

For example in Sutton there were 27 new infections, up just one from the previous week's data, an increase of 3.8 per cent. Sutton's rolling rate was 13.1, lower than the national average.

And in Merton, 23 new cases in the seven days up to May 20 represented a drop of six or -20.7 per cent on the previous figure, for an even lower rolling rate of 11.1.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of the NHS Providers organisation, said this week that the rate of hospital admissions in the country was "ticking up", but not at the same levels seen during January and February.

Speaking with Times Radio, he said: "Talking to a group of chief executives over the last few days in the areas that are most affected by the variant that originated in India, what we’re hearing is that hospitalisations are increasing, but they’re not increasing precipitously.

"So let’s just give you an example, one chief executive I spoke to said they had 20 hospitalisations last week, they’ve got 40 hospitalisations this week, they’re expecting 60 hospitalisations next week, but this was in a hospital that in January and February was trying to deal with 150 Covid-19 patients.

"So that gives you that sense of the fact that the hospitalisation rate is ticking up, but it’s certainly not at the levels that we saw in January and February when, as we know, the NHS in certain places was under real pressure."

Meanwhile the remarkable progress of the NHS vaccination programme is continuing across London.

NHS England data shows a total of 6,570,989 jabs were given to people in London between December 8 and May 25, including 4,176,736 first doses and 2,394,253 second doses.

The government said previously that all Covid-19 vaccines being used in the UK at present are effective against the 'Indian' variant of the virus.

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