Britain’s Omicron wave reached a new pandemic height today. Hospitalisations rose 65% in one week. Boris Johnson warns of possible ‘challenges in the coming weeks.

Another broken record was set by the Department of Health, which has now posted another 189.846 Covid cases within the past 24 hours. 

The number of Covid infections detected in this case is up to 189,213 infections yesterday, which was a record. This represents an increase of 55% from last Friday.

Recent hospital admissions data shows that 1,915 patients were admitted to the hospital on December 27th, the highest number since February. This is an increase of 1,171 over the week before.

In addition, another 203 people died in the same week. This is an increase of 48%. However, these figures may include deaths that occurred during the holiday period and have just been recorded.

This is ahead of New Year celebrations that are taking place tonight in England. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland have placed restrictions.

Next week, the Prime Minister will make a decision on whether or not to introduce new Covid curbs that limit indoor socialising. 

While the Prime Minister decided not to put new limits in place between Christmas and New year’s Eve, increasing Covid numbers raise concerns about new policies. 

The Office for National Statistics published estimates that one-in-25 people had Covid during the week ending December 23rd. This is an increase from the one-in-45 estimate for the week ending December 16th.

One in 25 equates to approximately two million people — the highest number since the ONS started estimating infection levels in England in May 2020.  

In his New Year’s Eve message, Johnson stated that thanks to vaccine rollouts, the country’s situation in fighting the disease has improved ‘incomparably’.  

The announcement came after NHS chiefs said that they were ready to impose tighter restrictions as quickly and efficiently as necessary. 

Chris Hopson of NHS Providers said new curbs may be necessary ‘if the evidence warrants. Because health bosses are’still not sure’ whether there will be an increase in elderly hospitalisations that could cause Mr Johnson to take action, Hopson said. 

A Government science advisor warned today that Omicron will likely overwhelm the NHS. 

Professor Peter Openshaw sits on Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group. 

Boris Johnson will decide next week whether to impose new coronavirus restrictions on socialising as the Prime Minister said in his New Year's Eve message that there are likely to be 'challenges' in the weeks ahead. Revellers are pictured in Leeds on Thursday night

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, will make a decision next week about whether new coronavirus restrictions should be imposed on socialising. He stated in his New Year’s Eve message that there would likely be ‘challenges’ in the coming weeks. Pictured in Leeds Thursday night: Revellers

In a matter of fortnight, the number of NHS employees who are absent due to covid has almost doubled to nearly 28,000 per day

In England, the number of NHS workers absent from Covid has doubled within two weeks to almost 28,000 per hour. This prompts Boris Johnson’s urgent call to create an emergency rescue plan to save the NHS.

Nearly 255,000 employees became ill or were self-isolating due to the virus Boxing Day. That’s twice the amount of staff who fell ill compared with 12,000 people at home just a week earlier. 

On December 23rd, almost 28,000 Covids were absent. This is the highest number since last month’s publication by the NHS. 

Daisy Cooper, a Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for health, stated that the numbers confirm that ‘hospitals and ambulance services have been stretched to breaking point. 

She urged Mr Johnson to call a COBRA meeting ‘without delay to thrash out a comprehensive rescue plan’. 

Matthew Taylor, the chief executive officer of the NHS Confederation said that the NHS faces a “perfect storm” of increasing Covid hospital admissions, illness, and frontline workers getting sicker.

Separate figures from NHS England showed that Covid patients were at an all-time high of around 11.500, which is the highest since February.

These are the latest developments in coronavirus  

  • Head of Primary Care at Imperial College London Dr Azeem Majeed stated that many NHS workers have difficulty accessing Covid-19 testing and that the Government needs to prioritise these workers in distributing them. 
  • Andrew Lane, chairman of the National Pharmacy Association said that more lateral flow testing are being given to pharmacies. However, supply is still very limited. 
  • Chairman of the British Medical Association’s Coronavirus Council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that there is growing concern about the “significant increase” in coronavirus-infected patients. 
  • Professor Openshaw stated that Omicron is’so infectious it’s almost necessary to infect you with a whiff or infected breath’. 
  • A total of 4,580 NHS staff at hospital trusts in London were absent for Covid-19 reasons on December 26, up 18 per cent on the previous week (3,874) and nearly four times the number at the start of the month (1,174), according to new figures from NHS England.
  • Liberal Democrats called on the Prime Minister to convene a COBRA conference to talk about NHS staff absences, and to devise a complete rescue plan. 
  • NHS England data revealed that 5,578 (67%) of 8,321 coronavirus-infected patients in the NHS acute trusts in England in December 28 showed signs and symptoms consistent with Covid-19.  
  • Scots were urged by the Scottish government to abide by their guidance and not attend large-scale New year’s Eve celebrations.

England currently has a ‘Plan B” restriction. People are told to use face masks indoors and work at home. 

However, Johnson didn’t follow Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland when they imposed new rules following Christmas. All three governments devolved put in place socialization curbs. 

Thousands of revellers, including those from Scotland and Wales, are expected to travel across the border to England today in order to celebrate New Year’s Eve at clubs and pubs throughout England. 

Next week, the PM will decide whether or not to place restrictions on indoor mixing in England.  

Mr Johnson said in his New Year’s Eve message: ‘Happy New Year, 2022 is almost upon us. 

“And regardless of the difficulties that fate may continue to place in our path, and no matter our anxieties about the weeks or months ahead, particularly Omicron and growing hospital numbers, we can affirm one thing: our December 31st position is unparalleled.

As he applauded the rollout of the vaccine, the PM declared that the UK had been able maintain an open society and economy because there was “one major reason”. 

He stated, “That is because British citizens have responded heroically, voluntary, and almost insurmountable numbers to the appeal to get vaccinated,”

‘And tonight, New Year’s Eve is here, and we have met our goal, we have doubled the speed for the booster roll out.

“And because of this huge national effort, we can all celebrate tonight. But I do want to remind everyone that ventilation is vital and they should be careful. You must follow these rules, whether you are in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.

Johnson made a plea for people living in Britain who have not been vaccinated yet to go forward and receive the vaccine. 

He stated, “The people that think they can’t get sick from it – take a look at those who are admitted to the hospital today, that could possibly be you.” 

“You could look at the suffering in the ICUs and see the needless, miserable deaths of people who didn’t get their booster.

Daily Covid admission in London have risen again, with 456 newly-infected patients placed on wards on December 28. This is the second day in a row admissions been above the crucial 400-a-day threshold that Government advisers warned could trigger nationwide intervention

London Daily Covid admissions rose again on December 28, with 456 patients infected by the virus being transferred to hospital wards. This is the second day in a row admissions been above the crucial 400-a-day threshold that Government advisers warned could trigger nationwide intervention

Scots going to England to celebrate NYE are urged by the Scottish Government to refrain from attending large-scale events

Today, the Scottish Government issued an ultimatum to Scots asking them to refrain from large-scale New Years Eve celebrations. English pubs are expecting thousands of revellers crossing the border to enjoy this night. 

Nicola Sturgeon banned Hogmanay parties large and advised that people limit their socializing as much as they can. 

However, many Scots may travel to England in order to get around the coronavirus restrictions and see the New Year. 

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister of Scotland today urged all Scots not to follow the Scottish Government’s lead. 

Omicron was ‘extensively spreading within our society’, he said. 

Groups of excited Scots were pictured yesterday arriving in Newcastle, Blackpool and London to celebrate New Year’s Eve and go to football matches with more expected to follow suit today. 

Last week, Ms. Sturgeon had announced the prohibition on Hogmanay large-scale events and decided to keep it in place earlier this week.

In order to “avoid overwhelming cases”, the First Minister stated that it was prudent and necessary to act to decrease the transmission. 

She has urged people to reduce their contacts with other households and to ‘limit the size of any indoor social gatherings that do take place so that they don’t include people from any more than three households’.

Similar restrictions are in place for socializing in Wales. Experts predict that as many as 100,000 revellers from both Wales and Scotland could travel across the border to enjoy this night.

In England there aren’t any such restrictions. People are encouraged to do a Covid before heading to parties. 

This morning, Mr Swinney was quizzed by the Scottish Government about why they were not ready to “trust” people before celebrating. 

He said this to BBC Radio 4’s Today:We trust our people, and encourage them to trust others.

‘But we have also asked people to limit their social contact because we can see from all of the data that you have just recounted that Omicron is spreading very, very widely within our society.

‘It poses a serious threat to us, we can see hospitalisation levels are increasing… so at a time when I recognise all of the sentiments that were set out in the clip that you have just played, I recognise all of those traditions, I have been part of them, I value them, I appreciate them, I love them, it is part of who we are.

‘But unfortunately this time around we have to apply some constraints on the level of social interaction we have to protect others.’

“So make this your new year’s resolution. It’s much easier than losing weight and keeping track of your diary. Find a local walk-in clinic or book an appointment online. Do something to make 2022 a joyful year for all of us.

While NHS bosses claimed that the Government has yet to meet the threshold necessary for new coronavirus restriction, PM’s remarks warned that ministers should be prepared to respond if it does.

M. Hopson stated to BBC Radio 4’s Today that “Look, it’s not the NHS that makes the restrictions rules. And we all know that the Government set a very high limit for the introduction of new restrictions.

“So, trust leaders will be able to see the reason why the Government claims that, in the absence a sudden influx of older seriously ill patients into hospitals that this threshold isn’t crossed yet.

We don’t know yet if there will be a surge, so we refer to the preparations for the surge that are being made right now. 

Hopson indicated that restrictions must be imposed ‘at a pace we need them’.

He said that restrictions are “inexactly the same situation” as the previous fortnight. That is, the government must be prepared to increase restrictions in a real hurry if needed. 

“And to be clear, this is a slightly different headline than one that says that NHS leaders believe there are no more curbs. If the evidence supports it, they may be necessary at a faster pace.

“There is one important fact I want to mention. It takes about two weeks for new restrictions that affect hospital admissions. The pattern of hospital visits for the following fortnight have already been established.

“So, in terms of limitations we should bring them into place at our pace if they are needed but trust leaders understand that the Government has set a high threshold which in reality that threshold has not been reached.”  

Professor Openshaw stated that Omicron is most likely to overwhelm the NHS.

He said: ‘I think we haven’t quite reached the threshold that was set by Government in terms of the NHS being overwhelmed, but it looks like that will be reached quite quickly.

“What worries me most is the NHS staff. These are my beloved colleagues, who have been so dedicated to their work through this virus. What are their plans?

“We should really reach out to them and offer every support to make the NHS an amazing place to work. This is a fact, although I have deep concerns for the health of the NHS staff.” 

As the government tries to solve a supply problem, concerns over Omicron spread quickly. 

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has told MPs that lateral flow tests are set to be in short supply for another two weeks as officials grapple with ‘huge demand’. 

Yesterday, Javid sent a warning letter to every MP in England, warning that supplies will have to be prioritized for the most vulnerable, including residents of care homes.

Additionally, he revealed that the UK had tripled its order for lateral flows between January and Februaruary from 100 to 325million. 

It came as many Britons were left unable to get kits for the third day running — despite ministers urging people to take the swabs before heading out to New Year’s celebrations.

Covid cases are highest among 18 to 35-year-olds (orange line), they said, but are rising in all age groups. There is also an uptick among 55 to 75-year-olds (red line) and over-75s (purple line) who are more at risk from the virus

They said that covid cases tend to be highest in the 18-35-year-old age group (orange), but they are increasing across all age categories. They also see an increase in cases among over-75s and 55-year-olds (red lines), both of whom are more susceptible to the virus.

Across England's regions the number of infections is still highest in London. But as Omicron spreads across the country cases are now rising in all other regions

London has the highest number of cases in England, despite being spread across all regions. Omicron spreading throughout the country means that Omicron infections are rising across all regions.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics today showed weekly deaths in England and Wales are still above the five-year average. Covid fatalities are yet to surge but this is a lagging indicator because of the time taken for someone who catches the virus to become seriously ill

The Office for National Statistics released separate statistics today showing that the weekly death rate in England and Wales is still significantly higher than its five-year average. While the rate of Covid-related deaths is not yet high, it’s a slow indicator due to how long it takes to get seriously ill from the virus.

Yesterday, the Government site offered lateral flow testing at noon. However, it stopped offering them by yesterday afternoon at 1.15pm.

Pharmacies have even started putting up signs telling customers they have no lateral flow tests — even for those who have pre-booked an order and have a code. 

Wales has responded to Downing Street by lending more than four millions of lateral tests for England.

Yesterday’s photos showed that contractors were still handing out the kits despite the lack of supplies. Outside a Nando’s, Slough received packs of 7 and 20 swabs. 

The crisis was blamed by ministers on a “global supply problem”. Access to PCRs is also difficult in certain areas.

There are growing concerns that the Swab Crisis could cause a crisis in the UK. Millions of people will be forced to isolate themselves because they cannot get testing to confirm they don’t have the virus.