ore than 87,600 Covid-19 cases were confirmed in the week after Boxing Day in London, official figures reveal today.
They show the disease continuing to spread in nearly all parts of the capital.
The seven-day Covid rate has spiralled above 1,000 new cases per 100,000 people in 12 boroughs.
It rose to 1,496.4 in Barking and Dagenham in the week to December 31, the highest rate in the country, 1,398.3 in Redbridge and 1,275.2 in Newham as the epidemic continues to hit the east of the city particularly hard.
The rate reached 971.3 for London as a whole.
Twenty-nine borough areas continued to see a weekly increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, with the biggest jump in Hounslow at 37.7 per cent, followed by Brent on 36.4 per cent, Barking and Dagenham 35.3 per cent, Sutton 31.4 per cent, Ealing 31.1 per cent and Newham 30 per cent.
The rises are not as steep as earlier in December and there are tentative signs that the fast spread of the disease may be slowing down slightly.
However, Professor Kevin Fenton, London director for Public Health England, stressed: “London’s Covid-19 infection rates are the highest we’ve seen anywhere in the country at any point during the pandemic.
“The new variant of the virus which transmits more rapidly is widespread and dominant across London, so the ask is simple – it is critical we must all stay at home.
“This has never been more important whilst the NHS continues to deliver the vaccine to those who need it most, and London’s hospitals care for hundreds of new seriously unwell Covid-19 patients each day.”
Some hospitals including St George’s in Tooting, south west London, the Royal Free in Camden, Barts Health which runs several hospitals in east London, and Barking, Havering and Redbridge trust, have already been forced to postpone operations due to Covid pressures.
The number of Covid admissions to the city’s hospitals is surging, with 5,667 in the eight days to January 2.
A further 14,700 positive cases were announced for the capital on Tuesday, with 87,610 in the week to January 2, compared to 73,225 in the previous week during which some people may have delayed getting tested because of the Christmas break.
On Christmas Day just 4,325 people had tests which were later confirmed as positive.
The real number of people with Covid is estimated to be significantly higher than the confirmed cases total.
Experts said the the number of people currently infected with coronavirus is “frighteningly high”, but if vaccines can be rolled out rapidly the nation can look forward to an “optimistic future”.
An estimated 1.1 million people in private households in England, the equivalent of around two per cent of the population, or one in 50 people, had Covid-19 between December 27 and January 2, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and around one in 30 in London.
Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, described the figures as “frighteningly high”, adding that for comparison, ONS data from June showed that infection numbers were around one in 4,000.
He said: “If we also highlight the huge numbers of confirmed daily cases, the fact that there’s more people in hospital now with Covid-19 than at any state of the pandemic, and that almost any graph you look at is on a steep upward trajectory, then the UK is clearly not in a good place right now.”
He added that although the UK passing 100,000 Covid-19 deaths in the “relatively near future” is “inevitable”, the rollout of the vaccines allows for some optimism.
“There is an optimistic future, with the rollout of the vaccine programme,” he said. “The issue is that before we get to the point when we can all relax a little bit, there will be some grim times ahead.”
Professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, said some hospitals are already “pretty full” and he does not expect admissions to ease for “another two to three weeks” following the start of the new lockdown.
The ONS estimates came as the Government recorded 60,916 daily cases as of 9am on Tuesday.
New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group scientist Professor Robert Dingwall cautioned that although this signalled cases topping 60,000 for the first time, this is partly due to the rise in demand for tests over Christmas.
Prof Dingwall, a leading medical sociologist who advises the Government, said: “The data continue to be quite unstable from the holiday period and it may take another few days before we have a clear picture.”
The figures from the ONS Covid-19 infection survey represent a rise from 800,900 people, or one in 70, who were estimated to have Covid-19 in the period December 17 to 23.
This does not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
The full Government figures show that in Hounslow there were 2829 cases in the week to December 31, up 775 (37.7%) with a rate of 1,041.9, Brent 3135 cases, up 836 (36.4%) with a rate of 950.7, Barking and Dagenham 3186 cases, up 832 (35.3%) with a rate of 1,496.4, Sutton 2182 cases, up 521 (31.4%) with a rate of 1,057.4, Ealing 3018 cases, up 716 (31.1%) with a rate of 883, Newham 4503 cases, up 1,040 (30%) with a rate of 1,275.2, Greenwich 2888 cases, up 641 (28.5%) with a rate of 1,003, Barnet 3945 cases, up 812 (25.9%) with a rate of 996.5, Harrow 2360 cases, up 445 (23.2%) with a rate of 939.6, Kingston 1418 cases, up 259 (22.3%) with a rate of 798.8, Lewisham 2799 cases, up 483 (20.9%) with a rate of 915.2, Redbridge 4268 cases, up 673 (18.7%) with a rate of 1,398.3, Hillingdon 2885 cases, up 439 (17.9%) with a rate of 940.1, Merton 2065 cases, up 297 (16.8%) with a rate of 999.8, and Camden 1693 cases, up 243 (16.8%) with a rate of 627.
Bromley saw 3529 cases, up 457 (14.9%) with a rate of 1,061.9, Tower Hamlets 3777 cases, up 480 (14.6%) with a rate of 1,163.1, Enfield 3955 cases, up 491 (14.2%) with a rate of 1,184.9, Croydon 3782 cases, up 463 (13.9%) with a rate of 978, Haringey 2667 cases, up 300 (12.7%) with a rate of 992.8, Southwark 2736 cases, up 245 (9.8%) with a rate of 858.1, Hammersmith and Fulham 1319 cases, up 115 (9.6%) with a rate of 712.4, Kensington and Chelsea 935 cases, up 77 (9%) with a rate of 598.9, Islington 1782 cases, up 147 (9%) with a rate of 734.9, Waltham Forest 2956 cases, up 224 (8.2%) with a rate of 1,067.2, Lambeth 2687 cases, up 148 (5.8%) with a rate of 824.1, Bexley 2921 cases, up 113 (4%) with a rate of 1,176.5, Hackney and City of London 2528 cases, up 93 (3.8%) with a rate of 869.2, and Richmond 1294 cases, up 30 (2.4%) with a rate of 653.5.
In Wandsworth, there were 2464 cases, down 165 (6.3%) with a rate of 747.4, Havering 3122 cases, down 139 (4.3%) with a rate of 1,202.8, and Westminster 1417 cases, down 13 (0.9%) with a rate of 542.3.