Cases of gonorrhoea in England have rocketed to the highest level since records began more than 100 years ago, new figures show.

There were 70,936 cases reported in 2019, up by more than a quarter (26%) from 2018.

That marks the largest annual number since records started in 1918 and a continuation of an upward trend in recent years, Public Health England (PHE) said.

Between 2015 and 2019, diagnoses have risen by 71%, from 41,382 cases to 70,936, data released on Wednesday revealed.

Overall cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in England also rose last year, with 468,342 diagnoses reported, up by 5% from 447,522 in 2018.

Cases of syphilis rose to 7,982 in 2019, a 10% increase from 7,260 the previous year.

There were 70,936 cases of gonorrhoea reported in 2019

There was a 196% increase in diagnoses of Mycoplasma genitalium, rising from 1,795 to 5,311.

PHE said the rise reflects an increase in available testing following the publication of the first national guidelines for the diagnosis and management of the bacterium in 2018.

According to the NHS, Mycoplasma genitalium is the smallest known bacterium that can replicate itself.

It typically invades the cells lining the genital and urinary tracts, called epithelial cells, but has also been found in these cells in the rectum and lungs.

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Mainly caught through unprotected sex, for most people an infection comes with no symptoms, but it can cause vaginal discharge and pelvic pain in women and pain while urinating for men.

Chlamydia was again the most commonly diagnosed STI, with 229,411 - or nearly half - of all new STI diagnoses in 2019.

Among young people aged 15 to 24, the number of chlamydia tests rose 2% compared with 2018.

A total of 1,339,931 tests for infection were carried out in this age group - a 13% decline from 2015.

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The total number of consultations at sexual health services (SHSs) in England increased by 7% between 2018 and 2019, from 3,613,447 to 3,852,121.

PHE officials said consultation figures "varied considerably" by service type.

The total number of consultations reported by specialist SHSs increased by 2% between 2018 and 2019 (from 2,961,979 to 3,021,945), whereas the total number of consultations reported by non-specialist SHSs (excluding internet services) decreased by 10% (from 390,760 to 350,064).

The number of consultations reported by internet services increased by 84% between 2018 and 2019, from 260,708 to 480,112.

PHE said it is analysing data received this year to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic response on the provision of HIV/STI services and the effect that social distancing measures may have had on the epidemiology of STIs.