Official figures reveal that England’s Covid hospitals have risen to an 11-month-high, according to official figures. This was revealed by a senior minister who gave the green light to revellers celebrating New Year’s Eve in England. However, caution is advised.

NHS England data shows another 1,374 coronavirus patients were admitted on Boxing Day. That’s almost 50 percent more than on Sunday. The highest daily death toll in the country since February’s second wave of violence, it is also the most severe.

However, a senior healthcare official warned that the data could be misinterpreted and suggested hospitals should not record more Omicron-related cases.

The NHS data also showed that London hospital admissions per day are lower than the 400/day threshold that would trigger intervention by Government.  

Gillian Keegan, who is a health minister said it as Gillian Keegan. She suggested that people go out to have fun in 2022 and take measures to reduce their risk of contracting the disease. 

She advised people to take lateral flow tests before hitting the town and consider having parties outdoors, with  temperatures expected to hit the mid teens Celsius in parts of the UK.

The message came as a leading vaccines expert backed Boris Johnson’s refusal to toughen England’s Covid restrictions to bring them into line with the other Home Nations, saying that mass deaths and hospitalisations from the deadly disease are ‘history’.

Professor Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and a member of the Vaccines Taskforce, said the public had been ‘pretty responsible’ in its response to the spread of the  Omicron variant. 

But, Johnson’s choice not to follow Scotland and Wales in having tighter Covid policies in place caused some backlash from doctors – while his backbenchers were happy with the decision.

Speaking to broadcasters about New Year celebrations this afternoon, Care Minister Ms Keegan said: ‘We have always said ”act cautiously” since this new variant came among us.

“It’s highly contagious and people are likely to know someone who has caught it during the Christmas season.

“So be careful, do a Lateral Flow Test before going out. Ventilate – There have been outdoor parties where people moved the things outside.

“So be careful, but try to have fun as well. But cautiously.” 

It was: 

  • England’s border with Wales and Scotland was prepared for a New Year invasion following crackdowns by Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon on hospitality. England is no longer the only country allowed to have a good time.
  • Britain was encouraged to shorten its Covid quarantine time to only five days to bring its isolation rules into line with the US.
  • Gloomy specialists criticized Boris Johnson for his decision to keep his cool and cancel New Year’s Eve in England.
  • Official figures reveal dozens of pregnant women and new mothers are fighting for their lives against Covid in intensive care units 
Professor Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and a member of the Vaccines Taskforce, said the public had been 'pretty responsible' in its response to the spread of the Omicron variant

Gillian Keegan said people should go out and have fun to see in 2022 but take steps to limit their chances of catching the virus

Professor Sir John Bell (left), regius doctor of medicine at Oxford University. He was also a member on the Vaccines Taskforce. Gillian Keegan (right), said that people should have fun and see 2022, but also take precautions to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.

The most up-to-date figures reveal there were 842 Covid patients in intensive care on ventilators – the lowest level in two months

The most up-to-date figures reveal there were 842 Covid patients in intensive care on ventilators – the lowest level in two months

Mr Johnson, who is at his Chequers country retreat, left it to Health Secretary Sajid Javid to face the cameras to announce the decision, although he later tweeted advice to Brits to exercise caution at the new year

Johnson is currently at Chequers Country Retreat. He left it up to Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, to make the announcement. However, he tweeted cautionary advice for Brits at the beginning of the year.

UK Government statistics show how the number of Covid tests being conducted has reached 1.5m a day, with the number of swabs carried out having increased massively since Omicron first emerged

According to UK Government statistics, 1.5 million Covid tests are performed each day. The number of swabs has increased dramatically since Omicron was first created.

Bank Helliday in Scotland or Wales is a fun, free-spirited place. 

The new Covid hospitality restrictions have left many cities in Scotland and Wales looking bleak and decrepit. Meanwhile revellers in England were able to let loose in England as Sajid Javid assured that no new rules will be in place prior to New Year’s Eve.

New restrictions were imposed Monday on nightclubs in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The rule of six was reintroduced and social distancing has been reinstated for restaurants and pubs.

England will remain the UK’s only place where revellers can celebrate New Years Eve. Boris Johnson heeded the appeals of his hospitality bosses, and refused to accept new Covid restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford and Mark Drakeford are also accused today of ‘jumping to the gun’ as well as ‘devastating hospitality industry’ through imposing tougher restrictions.

The first day of new Bank Holiday Monday rules saw traditionally bustling streets in Cardiff and Swansea as well as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Edinburgh looking dry and grumbly.

England was the opposite. In England, however, the alcohol-fueled crowds of London and Leeds were still in festive spirits – bravely braving the rain on Bank Holiday Monday in order to take advantage of the looser hospitality regulations.

Johnson is currently at Chequers Country Retreat. He left it up to Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, to make the announcement. However, he tweeted cautionary advice for Brits about the new year.

The health minister took advice from Sir John, and reviewed the data. Sir John stated that his decision on where the NHS should be in the following days was likely to be correct.

“There is a lot of awareness that there are many people in this country who recognize the danger of this epidemic of diseases. People in England, especially, have been very responsible about trying to avoid going out or spending too much time exposed to the virus.

He added: ‘The horrific scenes that we saw a year ago – intensive care units being full, lots of people dying prematurely – that is now history in my view and I think we should be reassured that that’s likely to continue.’

Tory MPs have also welcomed the decision of the PM not to follow in the footsteps of other home countries in placing harsher Covid limitations ahead of the start of the new Year. This was despite being at odds with him. 

After introducing new nightpot rules and Covid checks, he was confronted with a revolt of more than 100.

Tory Mark Francois stated to GB News, “It’s amazing how a backbench rebellion with 101 MPs focuses mind’s, isn’t it?” Let’s not get cocky, it was the right decision. Bravo Prime Minister.

“We’re asking people to use common sense. We’re conservatives.” We trust in the British people’s good judgment.

Brendan Clarke Smith (Bassetlaw MP) said: “It’s all about trusting people make their own decisions and using their common sense.

Other scientists, however, disagreed with Sir John’s laissez-faire rules. 

University of Brighton virusologist Dr Sarah Pitt recommended that there be ‘a few steps’ taken to reduce the spread of Omicron.

LBC received a statement from a microbiology professor that the’serious infection virus’ was putting people in serious hospitals and some are even dying.

“I personally know more people with Covid who have been sick in the past month than all of the pandemic,” she stated.

UK is being asked to reduce Covid isolation by just FIVE Days 

Britain today was asked to shorten its Covid quarantine time to only five days and align its isolation rules with those of the USA.

American officials scrapped an order that would have required the infected self-isolate 10 days. They can now leave at half-way, provided they don’t have any symptoms, and they are able to wear masks around other people for five more days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bosses, insisted that the decision was based on science and maintained society’s functioning.

Experts today called on the UK to be like Omicron. Omicron has caused havoc in businesses during the Christmas season by forcing hundreds upon thousands of people to remain at home.

Union officials have warned of the dangers posed by the highly transmissible variant, which has been rapidly spreading. This could leave the NHS and other public services in a dangerous state.

Ministers already reduced the time for isolation to seven days. Covid patients will be able to test positive twice by the end of the week.

Sir John Bell who is an immunologist, has advised Government on Covid. However, he said Britain could even go further by replicating the US with lateral flow testing. The swabs were a “very good way to mark who is infected” according to Sir John Bell, who spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia is an expert in infectious diseases and said that eventually Covid-infected individuals will be able to live a normal life as they do with a cold. 

“So, although the economy and the health are in balance, it is not mutually exclusive. It’s neither one nor the other.”

Yesterday’s new regulations saw nightclubs closed in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Pubs and restaurants were also subject to social distancing.

Businesses are furious at the new Covid restrictions on hospitality by devolved government governments, which have disrupted plans to celebrate December 31.

In a further sign that the Omicron variant appears to result in less severe disease, there were 8,474 patients in hospital with Covid yesterday compared with 19,277 on the same day last year.

The increase is nearly 1000 per day and the most significant since March 5. However, health officials say that there are no reports of patients who require ventilators as often as during the peak of last winter.

The most up-to-date figures reveal there were 842 Covid patients in intensive care on ventilators – the lowest level in two months. 

George Eustice, Environment Secretary, said that the Government will keep the Covid hospital admissions level under “very close review” after ministers determined there would not be any new restrictions in England prior to the New Year.

Although Mr Eustice admitted that Omicron’s infection rate was increasing, he said it wasn’t causing the same number of hospital admissions like previous waves.

According to him, there is encouraging evidence from South Africa showing that hospitalizations are lower and the length of stay at hospital for those who do need it is less than previous versions.

“At this time, we do not believe that any additional interventions are warranted beyond the ones we’ve already made.”

“But we must keep this under close scrutiny, as if we start to notice a significant increase in hospitalisations we will need to take further action.”

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said Covid will eventually be regarded as a cause of the common cold and will not warrant the reporting of daily case numbers.

End of Covid testing for tourists arriving in the travel industry 

Experts in tourism and travel called today for the removal of all prohibitive entry tests into the UK. They were branded ‘rapidly outdated’ and ‘without justification.

At the moment, people must pass a COVID-19 and PCR tests on days 2 through 3 before they travel to England.

However, these restrictions were made in order to reduce the Omicron Coronavirus strain which runs rampant across the country.

Boris Johnson, however, has not imposed any restrictions on Covid despite the fact that there are more than 100,000 cases each day.

This has baffled experts in travel to ask why the transport regulations that intended to reduce it are still being implemented and are causing havoc to the industry.

Paul Charles, the CEO of The PC Agency travel consulting, stated to MailOnline that there is no evidence for restrictions on entry into the UK.

“The UK’s pre-departure tests are not justified because the rules lack evidence. No-one needs to monitor Omicron coming in – it’s already here.

“The PM should remove the pre-departure testing as minimum, and make the day 2 a simpler lateral flow test.

BBC Breakfast: He said Covid is just one virus in a large family of coronaviruses. Other coronaviruses also release new variants nearly every year. That’s what will happen to Covid, which will effectively be another reason for the common flu.

“We won’t be reporting daily on the cases of different common cold causes going forward. Covid is just one.

“So, personally, it seems unlikely that we will do that while we’re still dealing with Omicron. But once Easter is over, maybe then we can start looking at scaling back depending on what the disease at that point.

Covid case numbers – which were updated for the first time since Christmas Eve – reveal 98,515 people in England tested positive yesterday. 

This figure is more than four times the number of people who test positive for HIV on the same date last year. It also represents a substantial decrease in the number of cases that were reported to the English Health Service on Christmas Day, which was 113 628.

This is lower than the Boxing Day 103 558 reported cases. These promising numbers highlight Omicron’s protection against serious illness and the growing evidence of Omicron being a milder variant. 

A further 143 people in England died after testing positive for Covid yesterday – down 42 per cent on the 246 people who were reported to have died the same day last year.

Yesterday’s number could have been inflated by the recording lag. There were no deaths on Christmas Day, and only three on Boxing Day.

Meanwhile data for London – which No10 has been watching closely – reveals there were 364 Covid hospital admissions across the capital on Christmas Day.

This was an increase on the 278 Christmas Eve hospitalisations, but it’s still below the 400 admissions per hour that the Government considers the trigger for new restrictions. 

NHS England data shows that 351 Great Ormond Street Hospital Trust employees were hospitalized or wasolating from Covid as of December 19. This compares to the 70 workers who had been sick one week earlier. According to statistics, this figure represents 6.13 percent or more of the total workforce at the trust. MailOnline has a graphic that shows which 10 London trusts had the highest percentage of employees who were absent due to Covid. It was shown in the MailOnline graph on December 19, 2009.

Some 338 hospital workers at Barts Health trust were ill or isolating due to Covid on December 19, according to NHS England data, compared to 83 two weeks earlier. Guy's and St Thomas' Trust had the highest Covid staff absence numbers in London, with 515 workers at home on December 19, compared to 179 two weeks earlier on December 5 (188 per cent increase). King's College Hospital trust saw 505 Covid-related absences on December 19, followed by Imperial College Healthcare trust (365), Great Ormond Street Hospital trust (351) and St George's University Hospital trust (206)

The Covid data from NHS England showed that 338 Barts Health trust hospital workers were either sick or isolated due to Covid as of December 19. This is compared with 83 two weeks prior. The highest number of Covid-related absences in London was recorded at Guy’s Trust and St Thomas’ trust, which had 515 employees home as of December 19. This compares to the 179 workers who were there two weeks prior on December 5, an increase by 188%. King’s College Hospital Trust saw 505 Covid-related absences December 19. This was followed by Imperial College Healthcare trust (3365), Great Ormond Street Hospitaltrust (351), and St George’s University Hospital Trust (206)

NHS England data shows staff absences in London due to Covid have increased from 1,100 to 3,874 over in the two weeks to December 19. It means the virus now makes up around 43 per cent of NHS daily absences in London compared to just 18 per cent before Omicron spiralled out of control

NHS England data shows Covid has increased staff absences from London by around 1,100% to 3,874 between the weeks of December 19 and 20. The virus accounts for 43 percent of NHS London’s daily absences. This is a significant increase from the 18% that Omicron had before Omicron became out of control.

Official data shows the average number of daily Covid admissions rose 62 per cent week-on-week in the seven days up to December 22 in London, while they jumped 47 per cent in the North West and 39 per cent in the East. Hospitalisations are also on the rise in the Midlands, where they jumped 36 per cent, and the North East and Yorkshire (31 per cent) and the South East (10 per cent). The South West is the only part of the country where Covid admissions are falling, with the number seeking NHS care falling by four per cent

According to official data, the number of daily Covid admissions increased by 62% week-on-week from December 22 through 22, in London. They jumped 47% in the North West while 39% in the East. The Midlands saw a 36% increase in hospitalisations while they rose by 31%, the North East, Yorkshire (31%), and the South East (10%) respectively. Only the South West sees a decline in Covid admissions. The number of patients seeking NHS care has fallen by four percent.

According to reports, ministers monitor hospitalization numbers in capital. If daily figures exceed 400 they will be subject to a lockdown for two weeks.

Professor Lockdown: Yes, I made errors 

Neil Ferguson stated that he is now a Marmite figure and acknowledged that he’d made mistakes as well as simplified things.

However, the British epidemiologist and the one who did the initial modeling that helped to shape the Covid response in Britain, stated that the science of the crisis was ‘essentially right’.

According to him, the Omicron variant may be responsible for up to 5,000 death per day. Inadvertently, he suggested earlier this year that 100,000 infections could occur per day during summer.

Professor Lockdown was the name given to this scientist for the modeling that resulted in the first lockdown.

On Radio 4’s Today, he stated that “I suppose it wasn’t anticipated becoming the public Figure I suppose now I am,” something akin to a Marmite character.

“I have certainly made errors in communication and simplified things from time-to-time.”

Yesterday night, the UK Health Security Agency reported that 45,307 Omicron-related cases had been confirmed in the UK.

 This brings the total confirmed cases of the variant in the UK to 159,932, but does not include any new information for Scotland and Northern Ireland which have not reported data since December 23.

There have been 39 deaths of Omicron-related people in England, and 407 hospital admissions of Omicron patients. 

Health officials stated that Covid admissions are not increasing ‘precipitously so’, but cautioned that it’s still too early to dismiss the concerns.

Chris Hopson (CEO NHS Providers) stated: “Trust leaders are closely monitoring their current hospital admissions records.

“Talking with chief executives this morning, it seems that admissions are increasing but not rapidly. It is particularly fascinating to see how many chief executives talk about the increasing number of patients who are symptomatic and being admitted for non-medical reasons, then later testing positive for Covid.

“Trusts do not report large numbers of Covid-type respiratory issues in patients who require critical care or increased oxygen use. This is contrary to what we observed at January’s Delta variant peak.

“We need to be very careful when interpreting Covid’s admission data.”

He stated that trusts should be able to ‘prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.

The consequences of a clampdown could be catastrophic 

Professor Philip Thomas comments 

At least, for the moment, common sense prevailed. Boris Johnson, the Cabinet and other concerned citizens have remained calm despite dire forecasts and frightening statistics.

Before the new year, there will be no additional restrictions for Covid.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has sensibly urged people not to throw caution to the wind when enjoying parties on December 31 – but in England at least, parties are permitted.

It is crucial. A second clampdown would have disastrous consequences for society, economy, and general mental health.

Empty tables at a bar in Concert Square on Boxing Day in Liverpool's city centre. Downing Street is understood to be leaning towards new guidance urging people in England to be careful and limit contacts – rather than imposing new legally-binding restrictions

On Boxing Day, empty tables were seen at the Concert Square bar in Liverpool’s city center. Downing Street is understood to be leaning towards new guidance urging people in England to be careful and limit contacts – rather than imposing new legally-binding restrictions

Chief Medical Officer for England, Chris Whitty (right) and Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance earlier this year

Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer of England (right), and Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor, earlier in the year

This would also be based upon a fundamental misinterpretation statistically. The situation can seem grim if we only consider the worst-case scenarios of the current wave.

Professor Neil Ferguson, Imperial College London warned that there would be 10,000 admissions to hospitals every day. The reality is far from that – in fact, yesterday’s NHS figures show there were fewer than 10,000 Covid patients in hospital in the whole of England. In reality, the number was 8,474.

You should never base decisions about policy on worse-case scenarios.

Statistics models show that even the most optimistic forecasts can be a poor predictor for reality. The spread of possibilities means that we are 97 percent confident that any outcome will prove to be more positive than our worst predictions. This isn’t wishful thinking. It’s mathematics.

Many gloom-mongers including some who serve on the Government’s Sage committee believe it is safer to plan for all possible outcomes.

Tighter coronavirus restrictions were introduced in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland today as the nation's leaders try to halt the spread of the Omicron variant. Pictured: Shoppers take to Oxford Street for the Boxing Day sales

Today, the leaders of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales imposed tighter coronavirus regulations to stop the Omicron variant spreading. Pictured: Boxing Day Sales at Oxford Street. 

However, this strategy is only effective if precautions are not painful. Covid restrictions have led to the economic and social collapse of society.

The gross domestic product of the United States has not returned to its pre-Covid days, two years ago. A strong economic recovery is unlikely to bring about a stronger economy. More people will be affected by lockdown restrictions that Covid than any other time. 

Judgment Value, which I am developing at University of Bristol as a risk assessment system, shows that our economy needs to continue improving if we are to have healthier, longer lives.

Costs associated with earlier lockdowns are mounting already. As a result, we are experiencing a huge backlog for NHS treatment of life-threatening conditions. We also see increased domestic abuse and disruptions to education. These problems cannot be allowed to get worse.

All too often, we focus only on the bleakest ‘worst-case scenarios’. We forget about more positive news. The UK Health Security Agency reported that Omicron was causing England to have between 50% and 70% fewer hospitalisations than Delta.

The weekend’s data released yesterday showed further positive news with hospitalizations remaining flat. London saw 364 admissions for Christmas Day, compared to 390 the previous day.

Some might have been worried to learn that there were more than 1.5 million people in England with active infections in December.

This was to be expected. This is due to the power of Bristol’s Predictor Corrector Coronavirus filter (PCCF) which calculates numbers. It’s very close to what I had predicted in The Daily Mail.

According to the PCCF the total number of active infection may exceed 3 million during the peak of the wave. We may also see the number of people admitted to hospitals in England reach 3,000 per day.

But that’s well below the 4,130 we saw at the peak in January – and daily deaths should stay well below what we saw in January too. 

Philip Thomas has been appointed Visiting Academic Profess at the University of Bristol