There were 26 Covid-related deaths in Worcestershire in December, official figures show.

Government data shows there have been a total of 1,336 Covid deaths within 28 days of a positive test since the start of the pandemic.

On December 28, 2021, there were 53 people with Covid being treated in hospitals run by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. These are Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Kidderminster Hospital and Alexandra Hospital, Redditch. Three of those 53 people were being treated in ventilated ICU beds.

A year earlier, on December 28, 2020, there were 115 Covid cases being treated in Worcestershire hospitals and the county experienced a peak of 269 during lockdown in January 2021.

The figures show there were three new Covid admissions on Christmas Day and five on Boxing Day 2021. This compares to a total of 25 across December 25 and 26, 2020.

In the seven days up to December 28, there were 6,877 new Covid cases reported across Worcestershire. That takes the total since the start of the pandemic to 105,289.

The seven-day case rate (the number of cases per 100,000 people) is now up to 1,000 for Worcestershire - a 57% increase on the previous seven days.

With cases rising across the UK, new measures have been introduced as schools prepare to reopen following the Christmas break.

Secondary school pupils have been told they will need to wear masks and to do a lateral flow test twice a week.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has also told headteachers to consider merging classes or sending groups of children home if staffing levels affected by Covid reach critical levels.

But Mr Zahawi said “there’s nothing in the data” to suggest more measures should be introduced later this week. The government will review Plan B measures on Wednesday.

“There’s nothing in the data that gives me any concern that we need to go beyond where we are at,” the education secretary told BBC Breakfast.

“There’s some really good data from London that it looks like the infection rates are plateauing, if not yet coming down.

“But we are seeing leakage into the over-50s in terms of infections, and it’s generally the over-50s who end up with severe infection and hospitalisation.”