THE number of patients in hospital with Covid across Dorset has risen by more than a third in a week, according to latest data.

Figures released by Public Health Dorset show the number of people in hospital being treated for the virus has risen from 131 to 182 amid rising infection rates.

A Public Health Dorset spokesperson said: “Confirmed case rates have continued to rise over the past week. Case rates for Dorset, BCP and the wider South West region are significantly above the England average.

“We've also seen a rise in the number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals in Dorset - the highest we've seen so far this year at 182. However, due to high prevalence in the community, it is likely that some of these people will be in hospital primarily for other reasons.”

Read more: Covid cases rising "quickly" and are at "very high levels" across Dorset

In the seven days to March 19, Dorset’s infection rate per 100,000 people was 1,341.0 which is above the south west and England average of 1,255.8 and 831.4 respectively.

Previously Dorset’s rate was 860.5.

A total of 5,093 infections were recorded across wider Dorset, up from 3,268 the previous week.

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Meanwhile, the rate in the BCP Council area was 1,079.9, up from 767.0 previously.

The number of people testing positive for the coronavirus has risen from 3,045 to 4,287.

The spokesperson added: “Infection rates are at very high levels in our communities, so you should keep taking steps to reduce the spread of the virus.

"By taking public health precautions, you can help to protect those who are most vulnerable and reduce pressure on essential services.”