Health

UK records new record number of COVID cases

The rise,
sparked by the highly transmissible omicron variant of the virus, also coincides
with an increase in the number of patients in hospital who have tested positive
for coronavirus.

Despite the
growing number of cases, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will not
bring in new restrictions this year in England to limit the spread of omicron,
which now accounts for 90 percent of all community infections, according to
health officials.

Johnson said
the high number of people who had received COVID booster shots, which now
stands at more than 33 million or about 58 percent of the population aged over
12, meant there was no need for new rules ahead of New Year celebrations.

“Enjoy
New Year sensibly and cautiously,” he said. “We’ve got cases
certainly going up, we’ve got a lot of cases of omicron, but on the other hand
we can see the data about the relative mildness of omicron.”

The data,
which included five days of figures for Northern Ireland due to differences in
reporting practices over the Christmas holidays, showed the number of cases had
risen from Tuesday’s previous high of just under 130,000 and were up 41.4
percent in the last seven days.

Hospitalisations
have also been rising sharply and according to official figures, there were
10,462 people in hospital in England with COVID-19 on Wednesday, up by 916 from
the previous day.

Of these,
771 needed to be in mechanical ventilation beds, a figure that has changed
little during December.

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Johnson said
he had been told by some doctors that up to 90 percent of patients with COVID
in intensive care had not received their booster vaccines.

There were
also 57 deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, up from
18 on Tuesday, but well below the numbers being reported earlier this month.

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