Omicron cases in Yorkshire and the Humber pass London pre-Christmas peak

Covid rates in Yorkshire and the Humber have now surpassed the London Omicron peak, according to official data.

Infections across the region have now soared above the levels seen in the capital before Christmas, which sparked jitters over the possibility of more restrictions and threatened to cancel festivities.

Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Ambulance Service has had to cut some of its non-emergency passenger transport, as the record rates of infection are putting strain on the NHS and other services.

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According to analysis of data from the Government’s coronavirus dashboard, infection rates in Yorkshire and the Humber sat at 2,128.1 per 100,000 residents as of January 4.

A patient is transferred from Northampton General Hospital. (PA)

There were similar figures recorded in the North East - 2,466.2 per 100,000 - and the North West, with 2451.1 infections per 100,000 people over the same period.

All of these figures are higher than the 2,042.3 cases per 100,000 people recorded when cases in London peaked on December 23.

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Of the top 10 highest local authority case rates in England, seven are in North West England (Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Halton, Knowsley, St Helens and Wirral) while the other three are in North East England (Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees).

Cases have reached record levels across all parts of the UK in recent weeks, and millions needing to isolate has placed a strain on essential public services.

Elsewhere, a letter leaked to The Sunday Times suggested that patients relying on Yorkshire Ambulance Service to get them to routine appointments or clinics will now need to find alternative transport. Non-emergency patient transport services have been cut as a result of staff absences and other operational pressures, according to the note.

However, the letter also says that ambulances will still be used to transport patients who are receiving life saving care such as dialysis or chemotherapy, those who are fit for discharge, and other admissions when deemed appropriate.

Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said in a statement: “We are temporarily suspending some non-emergency patient transport service journeys to general outpatient appointments but will continue to convey patients for life-saving treatment such as renal dialysis or chemotherapy, treatment for Covid-19, and for those being discharged or admitted to hospital or transferred between hospital sites.

“We are contacting patients affected to ask them to make other arrangements and advising any patients who have any concerns about their transport to contact our reservations team.”