Around 1.7 million people are estimated to have had coronavirus last week, up 23% from 1.4 million the previous week, the Office for National Statistics said.

COVID levels are continuing to rise in all four nations of the UK, with the increase likely caused by infections compatible with the Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.

This is the highest estimate for total infections since the end of April, but is still well below the record high of 4.9 million which was reached at the end of March.

The rise of 23% is lower than the 43% jump in the previous week’s figures, but it means total infections are now at levels last seen at the end of April.

They are also higher than the peak reached during the second wave of the virus in January 2021.

However, infections are still below the record 4.9 million seen at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave at the end of March this year.

Virus continues to be most prevalent in Scotland

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Why are COVID cases rising in UK?

The ONS said the latest increase was “likely caused by infections compatible with Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5”, which are now thought to be the most dominant strains in much of the UK.

The virus continues to be most prevalent in Scotland, where 250,700 people were likely to test positive for COVID last week, or one in 20.

This is up week on week from 176,900, or one in 30, which is the highest estimate for Scotland since mid-April.

In England, 1.4 million people were likely to have had the virus last week, the equivalent of around one in 40.

This is up from 1.1 million, or one in 50 people, the previous week.

Wales has seen infections rise slightly to 68,500 people, or one in 45, up from 64,800, also one in 45.

In Northern Ireland, infections rose to an estimated 59,900 people, or one in 30, up from 42,900, or one in 45.