Britain’s Covid cases have risen to an all-time high as London hospital admissions breached the threshold necessary for No10 to set aside nationwide restrictions.

The UK Health Security Agency chiefs recorded 183,037 positive test results, almost three quarters more than last week. 

The count — which eclipses yesterday’s previous record by more than 45,000 — is skewed upwards because it includes five days’ worth of backlogged data from Northern Ireland, which didn’t feed officials its numbers over the Christmas break.

Statistics for England-only — which were kept up-to-date through the festive period — were also their highest on record, jumping by 45 per cent in a week. The result is surprising considering the same number of tests that were performed.

Despite the explosion in cases, Boris Johnson today gave the green light for people to celebrate New Year’s Eve but urged millions of revellers to be ‘cautious and sensible’. Omicron was spreading, and the Prime Minister said that everybody should be able to enjoy the last social occasion of the year. 

Although he said that the strain “continues to cause serious problems” with rising hospitalisations, the data clearly shows that it’s ‘obviously less severe than the Delta version’. 

Today’s separate NHS data showed that daily Covid hospitalizations in London had exceeded the 400-a-day threshold. Government advisors believe this could lead to nationwide restrictions.

England saw an increase of 65% in weekly admissions. More than 10,000 beds were occupied now by patients with virus infection for the first-time since March.

NHS leaders have warned against overinterpreting rising hospital beds. Omicron has been known to make a milder illness, while virus-infected patients spend less time in the wards. Incidental admissions are on the increase due to the extremely high levels of Covid in this community.  

Johnson claimed that England’s success in its booster roll-out was the reason he decided to delay implementing tougher restrictions. However, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all imposed new socializing rules.

He reminded the nation that the Prime Minister has reiterated his call for support as he stated today that the government had failed to provide the necessary boost to Covid patients who were in intensive care units.

Johnson is being criticized for not making a public appearance recently despite the coronavirus crises. As he was being grilled about the topic, he answered that he hadn’t been in the country for the past 10 days. He was lethargic and said, “I’ve been in this country.”

These comments were made as hospitality leaders suggested that up to 100,000 revellers from Wales and Scotland could travel into England for a ‘normal’ New Year’s Eve celebration.

Expect a surge of people entering England from December 31 due to rules prohibiting social events at large in neighboring countries. The Scottish government has admitted that it cannot stop Scots making the journey. 

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister of Scotland today advised Scots to avoid England for the celebrations. However Chloe Smith, Work and Pensions Minister risked an argument when she stated that ‘we’re one country and all citizens are free to roam within our country according to the general laws’. 

Nicola Sturgeon’s and Mark Drakeford face growing opposition over Covid curbs in Scotland, and Wales. 

Ms Sturgeon will deliver a Covid update this afternoon after record case numbers were recorded in Scotland over the festive period, with a pandemic-high of 11,030 on Boxing Day.   

Uncertain if Ms. Sturgeon (the Scottish First Minister) will introduce additional restrictions or keep existing ones. 

Boris Johnson today gave the green light for people to celebrate on New Year's Eve but urged the nation to be 'cautious and sensible'. He is pictured this morning at a vaccination centre in Milton Keynes

Boris Johnson, today, gave permission for New Year’s Eve celebrations to take place. However, he urged people to remain ‘cautious’ and’sensible’. This morning, he is seen at the Milton Keynes vaccination center. 


No10 says that Covid self-isolation should be reduced to five days, despite the fact that scientists and MPs have urged Boris not to do so.

Today’s ministers revealed that they do not plan to reduce the Covid self isolation period to five days. This is despite concerns about staff shortages threatening the NHS and other essential parts of the economy.

Boris Johnson has been urged by scientists, MPs, and business leaders to follow in the footsteps of the USA’s lead.

The Government said that there were no further changes planned, but maintained that the rules will be kept under review. Minister for disability people, work and health, Chloe Smith stated that the seven-day current isolation period was the right length. 

The Prime Minister — who was accused of dodging the Omicron crisis by spending the Christmas period in his country bolthole Chequers — was not asked about whether he intended to adapt the stay-at-home rules during a visit to a vaccination centre in Milton Keynes today.

The No10 initiative lowered the England quarantine from ten days down to seven days last week for anyone who tests negative more than once in a single day. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are yet to change.  

But late on Monday, American health officials announced they would cut their isolation time for positive cases to just five days – provided people were showing no symptoms, piling pressure on the UK to follow suit.

People have been flooding social media with their plans to travel to England to welcome in 2015 despite the restrictions placed on bars, clubs and pubs in their home countries. 

Yesterday, furious Tory MPs from Scotland and Wales demanded that Ms Sturgeon or Mr Drakeford release figures to justify their Covid crackdowns. 

It came as UK ministers said they have no plans to cut the Covid self-isolation period to just five days despite fears crippling staff shortages will threaten the NHS and other vital parts of the economy.

Scientists, MPs and business leaders have all lined up to urge Mr Johnson to follow the example of the US by once again reducing the time people have to spend in quarantine. 

The Government has now said there are ‘no further changes’ planned but insisted the rules would be kept ‘under review’. Ms Smith The current 7-day period of isolation is considered the “right” length. 

As pharmacists call for an urgent improvement in the supply for lateral flow tests, they claim that they are forced to turn people away empty-handed and home delivery kits are not being made available for the third straight day.  

The most recent coronavirus development was as follows:

  • Chloe Smith from Work and Pensions Ministry said people need to persevere to get Covid test results despite reports of limited supply. 
  • Jonathan Ashworth, shadow work secretary and pensions secretary, said that the Government shouldn’t rush to cut Covid isolation time. 
  • Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP), stated that the daily supply of nearly 900,000.000 lateral flow test a day is insufficient to meet the demand. She urged government to increase consistency of delivery. 
  • Matthew Taylor, the chief executive officer of the NHS Confederation said that’staff shortage is a major issue for the NHS currently’ in addition to the approximately 100,000 vacant positions.

Johnson promised there would be no new Covid laws in England after New Year’s Eve. 

He chose not to add curbs to his actions in Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland where extra restrictions were imposed following Christmas.  

During his visit to Milton Keynes’ vaccination center, The Prime Minister stated this morning that the vaccination program meant that he was “able to continue in the manner that he is”. 

He stated that the Omicron variation continues to pose real problems. While we’re seeing more cases in hospitals than usual, the Omicron variant is much milder and can be treated as such.

“But there is a reason why and one only reason that we are able that, and that’s because such a large proportion of the British population have come forward and requested to get vaccinated.

“We’ve done 32 million, possibly more, booster jabs, and this is what allows us to move forward with the New Year cautiously.

“But I cannot emphasize enough how crucial it is to everyone to get that booster jab. Particularly for the 2.4million individuals who received two jabs, but not their booster.

“So, I say to everyone, get your booster. It is fantastic, makes a big difference, protects you. And I am sorry, but most people currently in ICU aren’t boosted.

Infection rates per 100,000 people in London boroughs during the week to December 16
Infection rates per 100,000 people in London boroughs during the week to December 23

2.8% of Lambeth residents tested positive in the week ending December 23, (second image). This was followed by 2.6% in Wandsworth, Southwark, and Lewisham, which were 2,686 and 2,621 respectively per 100,000, and 2.5% in Lewisham, which is at 2,531 per 100. These boroughs saw the most rapid week-on week growth in infections rates, compared with the week ending December 16, (first image). This suggests that the capital’s epidemic is slowing down. Infection rates rose by 11% in Wandsworth, 15% in Lambeth and 25% in Southwark. Cases increased 43% in Lewisham.

Cases rose by 12 per cent in the week ending December 23 in Wandsworth, 15 per cent in Lambeth, 25 per cent in Southwark and 43 per cent in Lewisham ¿ the areas with the highest infection rate

Cases rose by 12 per cent in the week ending December 23 in Wandsworth, 15 per cent in Lambeth, 25 per cent in Southwark and 43 per cent in Lewisham – the areas with the highest infection rate

“I’ve spoken to doctors, who said the number of intensive care patients who aren’t being boosted is up to 90 percent.

The odds of getting into the hospital are 8x higher if you have not been vaccinated. 

Johnson was asked about his views on the New Year’s Eve crossing of the English border. 

He said: ‘I think everybody should enjoy New Year but in a cautious and sensible way. You should take the test, ventilate, consider others and, above all, get a booster.

Asked why England is taking a different approach to curbs to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson said: ‘We are looking at the data and what we are seeing is that we have got cases certainly going up, we have got a lot of cases of Omicron, but on the other hand we can see the data about the relative mildness of Omicron and what we can also see is the very, very clear effect of getting those jabs, getting those boosters in particular.

“That’s what makes a big difference. I’ve seen surveys that show 90 percent of ICU patients aren’t being boosted. 

“So, think about this. If you don’t get a booster, you run the risk of putting your health at stake.

Johnson stated that the government had “looked at balance of risk” and although cases are increasing, ‘what’s making a big difference is the level or booster resistance as well as the level vaccine-induced resistance within the population.

Ministers are expected to reach their target of giving every adult eligible a booster shot by the end, according to the PM. 

“What is needed now is to finish this work. And I have no doubt whatsoever that, by the beginning of the New Year every single adult will have been offered an opportunity to receive a boost,” he stated. 

According to reports, ministers will be closely monitoring Omicron London admissions. Any breach exceeding 400 is likely to result in further national restrictions. Boxing Day saw 374 admissions to London, an increase of 73% over the previous week.

Cases of Covid in South Africa are continuing to fall, as the wave caused by Omicron appears to burn itself out. The country, which was one of the first in the world to fall victim to Omicron, hit its peak in the seven days to December 17, when an average of 23,437 cases were recorded. But by Monday, the number had plummeted by 38 per cent to 14,390 cases

The number of South African cases suffering from Covid continues to drop as Omicron waves seem to be fading away. Omicron was the initial to strike the nation. The average number of cases in South Africa reached 23437 in seven days. The number of cases had dropped by 38% to 14,390 by Monday.

A shortage of covid tests puts new year plans at risk

As they claim they have been forced to give people lateral flow test kits while they lack them for home delivery, pharmacists are calling for immediate action.

After confirming that there would not be any new Covid restrictions for the New Year festivities, Monday’s Government advised citizens to have lateral flow testing before socialising.

However, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies stated that customers are getting turned down every five minutes because of “patchy” supply. They also said it was disappointing that many chemists they represented had to wait several days before receiving each shipment.

Although the UK Health Security Agency stated that it faced an “unprecedented” demand for these tests, it insisted that it had increased its capabilities since December and sent out approximately 900,000.

Currently there is no appointment for walk-in PCR test in England or Northern Ireland. Also, lateral flow testing cannot be ordered for home delivery. Some families may not have the opportunity to take a test before New Year’s Eve. 

The Government’s website states it is not possible to order lateral flow testing kits for home delivery with a message stating:

You may be able still to get rapid lateral flow testing from your local pharmacy. If you don’t have symptoms, only pick up the tests.

LFTs are in short supply at pharmacies all over the country. Many cannot replenish their supplies due to the disruptions caused by the Christmas and New Year holidays. 

Many pharmacies said they did not have enough stock on Monday. It could take up to three days before new stock arrives.

Expect to see a surge in revellers from Wales and Scotland crossing over into England for New Year’s Eve due to regional differences in social gathering rules. 

Greg Mulholland of the Campaign for Pubs stated that as many as 100,000 people could travel across the border for a normal New Year’s Eve, without the need for table service or wearing masks.  

According to him, a better coordinated and more common-sense approach is needed. This is confusing for thousands of people living near the border and frustrating for Scottish and Welsh publicans.

John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, has admitted today that the Scottish government cannot stop Scots from heading for England. 

BBC Breakfast’s Mr Swinney stated that he would discourage Scots not making these trips. 

‘Well, people have got to make their own choices, they have got to follow the advice that we have put in place,’ he said. 

‘We have the power in Scotland to put in place certain restrictions and we have done those on what we consider to be a proportionate and an appropriate basis.

‘I would discourage people from doing what you have suggested to me. I don’t think it is in the spirit of the rules that we are putting forward.

‘But people are free to make their own judgements. What we have got to recognise is that Omicron is a serious threat to absolutely everybody within our society and we have all got to take measures to protect ourselves by limiting our social contacts and connections and by complying with the restrictions that we have in place.’

Swinney was asked whether the Scottish government would enforce the border and stop people from crossing. He replied that people can make their own decisions. However, I discourage them from doing this. 

We encourage all to help us address this serious issue.

‘The best thing people could do is limit their social connections and to wear face coverings, to get vaccinated and to make sure they get their booster before Hogmanay and with all of these measures we can all play a contribution in ensuring that we tackle the issues and the serious challenges that we face.’ 

Ms Smith was later asked about Mr Swinney’s remarks and she told the BBC’s World at One programme: ‘I think perhaps I should just add the obvious constitutional point here which is we are one country and people are more than free to move around inside our country under the general law, obviously, but also at this time in terms of any Covid restrictions, as I understand it, there are of course slightly different points of guidance and regulation operating in the different parts of the UK.

Ministers “will not place restrictions in regions to combat Omicron.”

According to reports, ministers have rejected regional lockdowns for Omicron coronavirus variant control. This could mean that Britain might pay the cost of some Londoners being not jabbled.

According to The Times, a return to regional restrictions such as tiers, which are credited for slowing down the virus, but failed to stop a third nationwide lockdown, will not be allowed.

According to a government source, the newspaper was not informed that they were considering regional restrictions. This isn’t on the table.

Another source said that regional curbs are difficult to comprehend due to the many rules. The country should have one set of rules that is understood by everyone.

The move could result in regulations being imposed on parts of the UK with comparatively low hospital admissions to areas such as London, where medics fear that rate could increase in the coming weeks due to a lag between people getting infected and becoming severely ill. 

According to the latest statistics, 374 patients were taken to the capital’s hospitals on Boxing Day. This is close enough that it could be triggered by a government intervention.

London has also the lowest level of vaccination in the country, making it more vulnerable to severe diseases.

‘But given the general point that I think people could hear from all of the administrations in the UK, is that it is time to be cautious.

‘The best thing to do is to get boosted and make use of lateral flow testing so that you can keep yourself healthier and crucially keep those around you, wherever you are, healthier and safer too.’

Hospitality firms and opposition politicians in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been left furious by post-Christmas Covid rules, particularly over the lack of figures published to justify the decisions.

Tory MP Fay Jones, whose constituency sits on the border between England and Wales said: ‘I’ve been inundated with messages from worried businesses in Brecon and Radnorshire, particularly for those who have competitors across the border. It is essential that we see all the evidence.

Andrew Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives within the Senedd added that despite businesses struggling in this new year we haven’t yet seen any scientific evidence nor advice from the Welsh Government regarding these restrictions. This is another reason why we should see a Wales-specific inquiry about their response to the pandemic. 

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told Nation.Cymru: ‘Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford have let Scotland and Wales down badly and shown their true authoritarian nature.’  

Sky News spoke to Kate Nicholls about the difference in trading in English venues to compare to Scotland and Wales. She warned that firms could lose as much as 70% if they impose the rule of six or table-only service.

She explained that while this was a prudent step and a practical step, she said it allowed our businesses to keep trading and expand their business. 

“We already see the negative impact that hospitality restrictions have on Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. These are affecting their ability to trade and revenue. This is very encouraging that England has the ability to continue trading. 

“This is the last weekend our businesses will have before they go into quieter times in January and February, where they can lose even in a profitable year. It’s the last weekend that you can get the cash needed to keep your business open.

“The devolved administrations’ trading levels are at 70-80%, in some cases 80%, in cities centres. For businesses such as nightclubs, that have closed down, it is back to making no money. We are still experiencing suppressed trading levels in England, but we see about 40-50% normal trade.

“We’d appeal for” [the government]They will continue their pragmatic and cautious approach to dealing with rising cases.