Around one in every 13 people in the UK has coronavirus, according to latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
That is some 4.9 million people, up from 4.3 million people the week before.
ONS officials say that is the highest number seen since their survey began.
The surge in infections is being driven party by the contagious Omicron BA.2 sub-variant and people mixing more.
The figures for the week ending 26 March, are thought to give the most accurate reflection of what’s happening with the virus in the community.
The ONS survey tests thousands of people randomly in households across the UK – whether they have symptoms or not.
Kara Steel, senior statistician for the Covid-19 infection survey, said: “Infection levels remain high, with the highest levels recorded in our survey seen in England and Wales and notable increases among older age groups.”
The latest data comes on the day that most people in England will have to start paying for Covid-19 tests.
The Government’s “living with Covid” plan means free testing will only continue for certain groups – including some people with weakened immune systems, people admitted to hospital and health and care staff.
Estimated infection rates across the nations were:
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