North-east England has overtaken the North West to become the region of England recording the highest rate of Covid-19 cases, with figures nearing those seen at the peak of the second wave of the virus.
A total of 346.4 cases per 100,000 people were recorded for north-east England in the seven days to June 27, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England (PHE).
This is up sharply week on week from 175.3, and is the highest rate for the region since the seven days to January 10.
Rates peaked in the North East at 452.9 in the week to January 3.
North-west England now has the second highest regional rate, with 325.3 cases per 100,000 people – up week on week from 244.3.
Rates in all regions of England are still rising, Public Health England said.
In eastern England, which has the lowest rate, the number has increased from 47.7 to 87.8.
The figures reflect the impact of the third wave of Covid-19 cases, which is continuing to spread across the country and is being driven by the Delta variant of the virus, which was first identified in India.
Case rates among all age groups are also rising, PHE said.
The highest rate is among 20 to 29-year-olds, with 424.3 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to June 27, up week on week from 274.0.
This is also the age group to see the biggest week-on-week increase.
The second highest rate is among 10 to 19-year-olds, up from 220.7 to 369.4.
For people aged 60 and over, the rate is 27.2, up slightly from 17.6.
The number of Covid-19 hospital admissions and deaths has “remained stable”, however.
The hospital admission rate for Covid-19 in the week to June 27 stood at at 1.91 per 100,000 people, compared with 1.92 per 100,000 in the previous week.
Responding to the figures, Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle said: “Across all areas of the country cases are rising rapidly, although it is encouraging to see that hospitalisations and deaths are not rising at the same rate.
“Case rates are currently highest in the younger age groups, who are less likely to be hospitalised – so the vaccine is working to reduce severe disease in the most vulnerable groups.
“Many of us will be joining friends and family to watch England in the Euros on Saturday night, but please follow the guidelines in place to reduce the risk and enjoy the match safely – watching the game outside will always be safer than gathering indoors.”