Number of new Covid cases in UK passes 100,000 for first time | Coronavirus | The Guardian

by health and nutrition advice journalist

Daily cases of Covid-19 have passed 100,000 as the Omicron variant sweeps across the UK, according to government figures – the highest number recorded since the pandemic began.

More than 106,122 new infections were reported in the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday, up from 90,629 on Tuesday, dashing hopes that cases could be beginning to plateau. The unprecedented figure will only intensify concerns about the likely impact of the Omicron variant on hospitalisations in the new year.

The government has also provided a second metric showing the number of positive cases for the day the specimen was taken, which peaked at 103,281 on 15 December.

Confirmed cases of Omicron in England have risen by 13,106 to 69,147, the UK Health Security Agency said. Scotland’s cases rose by 174 to 1,652, while in Wales they increased by 301 to 941. There were no updated numbers available for Northern Ireland because of data flow complications.

The prime minister has announced that no new restrictions will be put in place for England before Christmas – but made clear fresh measures might be required afterwards.

Wales and Scotland have already set out new curbs to come into force after Christmas, with Cardiff reimposing the rule of six and 2-metre social distancing in hospitality venues from Boxing Day.

Stormont ministers have agreed that nightclubs in Northern Ireland will close from Boxing Day. The move was agreed at a virtual meeting of the power-sharing executive on Wednesday and came as the region recorded its highest daily increase in case numbers of the virus.

As well as case numbers, ministers are monitoring hospital admissions, particularly in London, where the Omicron wave is most advanced. NHS England has said that a total of 301 Covid-19 admissions were recorded by hospitals in London on 20 December, up 78% week on week and the highest number for a single day since 7 February.

The health secretary, Sajid Javid, rejected reports on Wednesday that ministers had already been shown data suggesting Omicron produces less severe health outcomes than the previous Delta variant. He said the analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) was not yet complete.

With fears growing about mass staff absences across key sectors in January, Javid has also announced that mandatory self-isolation for those suffering from Covid-19 will be reduced from 10 days to seven, as long as patients take two negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven of their spell at home.

Those leaving self-isolation early are still strongly advised to minimise contact with others in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces.

Boris Johnson’s cabinet held a lengthy meeting earlier on Tuesday at which it was briefed by scientific experts, but opted not to impose any new restrictions immediately.

The cabinet is divided, with some ministers, including Liz Truss and Jacob Rees-Mogg, more sceptical about the need for controls, while Javid has been warning against waiting too long for more data to become available.

This content was originally published here.

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