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 southeast England, 1,547 hospital patients with confirmed Covid-19 were reported on Wednesday, the highest number for the region since the end of April.

During the first wave, the number of patients in southeast England peaked at 2,073 on 7 April.

At the current rate of increase, levels could be above this within a fortnight.

It is a similar picture in eastern England where 1,063 patients were reported Wednesday - again, the highest since the end of April.

The first-wave peak in eastern England was 1,484 patients on 12 April.

On the current trend, this could be surpassed by the end of the month.


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The first-wave peak of Covid-19 hospital patients has already been surpassed in four other regions.

On 16 November new records were set in both northeast England, Yorkshire and northwest England, while the midlands reached a new peak on 23 November 23 followed by southwest England on 24 November.

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 9 December, while the first-wave peak was 4,813 on 8 April.

Wales could move to lockdown after Christmas - Drakeford

Wales will reintroduce a tier-like "traffic light" system of national restrictions in response to the country's worsening coronavirus crisis, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

He said the country was currently in the third-highest alert level of a possible four, with it being "inevitable" that greater restrictions resembling a lockdown would be imposed after Christmas if Wales moved to the highest level.

But he denied the toughest measures that could be introduced after 27 December would in effect be another firebreak lockdown as they would be reviewed every three weeks as opposed to ending after a fixed period of time.

And he said there was a possibility of different levels of restrictions for different parts of Wales, despite previously admitting the series of local lockdowns he imposed across the country during the autumn "didn't work well enough" to curb the spread of the virus.

Mr Drakeford described the Covid-19 situation in Wales as "very serious", and although the country's 17-day firebreak had successfully brought down rates of new cases these had now risen "faster than our models have predicted", adding that it was "firmly entrenched in so many parts of Wales".

The Welsh NHS "will not be able to cope as it is today" if the current levels of coronavirus-related admissions continue in the coming weeks, he warned.

Mr Drakeford said that outdoor attractions across Wales, such as winter wonderlands, would now be forced to close to limit the spread of Covid-19.