The number of deaths involving coronavirus registered each week in England and Wales has risen for the third week in a row, but levels remain well below those reached in the early part of the pandemic.
A total of 423 deaths registered in the seven days to July 8 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is up 27% on the previous week and is the highest number since the seven days to May 20.
The figures suggest deaths are once again on an upwards trend, following several weeks where the numbers had shown a steady fall.
Covid-19 infections have been increasing across the country since the start of June, driven by the subvariants Omicron BA.4 and BA.5.
This is now likely to be having an impact on the number of death registrations.
It is the third wave of Omicron infections so far this year.
During the two previous waves, weekly deaths in England and Wales peaked between 1,000 and 1,500.
This is well below the peak seen during the wave of infections in January 2021 caused by the Alpha variant, when the weekly total reached nearly 8,500.
The low number of deaths during this year’s waves reflects the success of Covid-19 vaccines in weakening the link between infection and serious illness.
Everyone over the age of 50 will be offered a fresh Covid-19 vaccination this autumn, to boost protection ahead of possible further waves of the virus, the UK Health Security Agency announced last week.
Other groups eligible for the jab will include frontline health and social care workers and those aged five to 49 in clinical risk groups, including pregnant women.
Overall, a total of 200,892 people in the UK have now had coronavirus recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began, the ONS said.
This includes all instances where Covid-19 has been mentioned on a certificate, either as a main cause of death or a contributory factor.
Separate figures show the month-long rise in the number of hospital patients in England testing positive may be levelling off.
A total of 14,044 people with the virus were in hospital on July 18, up 5% on the previous week, according to NHS England.
Seven days earlier, on July 11, the week-on-week increase stood at 25% – while it was running as high as 39% at the start of July.
If the rate of increase continues to slow, the current wave may end up peaking below the 16,600 patients seen at the height of the BA.2 wave in April.
Patient numbers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are currently around three-quarters of the peak reached during the BA.2 wave.
Around six in 10 hospital patients who test positive for Covid-19 are being treated primarily for something else, rather than the virus.
But they will need to be kept isolated from those patients who do not have Covid, putting extra pressure on hospital staff who are already struggling to clear a record backlog of treatment.