Alongside rising case rates, the number of Covid patients in England has once again risen, reaching their highest number since February

A steady stream of patients arriving at the Royal London Hospital as Covid figures are rising. There were 113,628 cases on Christmas Day. It's also been revealed that there were 103,558 on Boxing Day, and 98,515 in the latest 24-hour period. There is also a big backlog of patients waiting for routine operations with some hospital staff off ill.
The UK has broken its daily Covid case record on consecutive days in December

A further 189,213 people have been infected with Covid over the past 24 hours in the UK, marking another record breaking day.

The figures from NHS England includes data for Wales covering a two-day period.

As the Omicron variant takes hold, 332 people died of the virus, up from 57 confirmed deaths yesterday.

This figure includes a backlog of hospital deaths covering the period from December 24-29, but is the highest daily death toll since March 2.

This comes as the number of Covid patients in England has risen to 11,452, the highest number since February 26.

According to figures from NHS England, this is up 61% from a week earlier and 990 more patients than the day before.







Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, has loaned four million LFTs to England as the country is hit by a shortage
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Anthony Harvey/REX/Shutterstock)

In London, 3,477 people were in hospital with Covid on December 30, up 66% week-on-week and the highest number since February 16.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford today came to the rescue of England, lending the British government four million lateral flow tests as the country suffers from a shortage.

He said: “Wales has a significant stock of lateral flow tests, sufficient to meet our needs over the weeks ahead.”

Brits in recent days have been unable to order PCRs or pick up LFTs from their local pharmacy and on a call to Tory MPs, Health Secretary Sajid Javid admitted the country was being hit by supply issues.







A general view of construction of a Nightingale ‘surge hub’ at St George’s Hospital, in south west London
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PA)

To cope with the rocketing hospital numbers, the NHS has begun setting up Nightingale “surge hubs” at hospitals across England, as well as readying plans to expand morgues into car parks if needed.

Work was due to begin this week on a total of eight hubs, each of which could hold around 100 patients.

However, whilst case numbers and hospitalisations are rising, thanks to an accelerated booster programme and improved antivirals and treatments for patients in hospitals, death rates remain low.

Reporting of data has been interrupted over the festive period, but death rates have been trending downwards since late October and 143 people were reported to have died on December 27 which remains in line with trends before Christmas day.

Similarly, the rates of patients on mechanical ventilators has remained steady for the past month.







A woman gives a passer-by a free Covid-19 rapid lateral flow test kit at a hand-out point on Hoe Street in Walthamstow, north London
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AFP via Getty Images)

England had 771 Covid patients on ventilators on December 29, up from Christmas day but down from the same day last month.

The worry is that the time lag between people catching Covid and going to hospital and then again before going to ICU or dying, means that the UK could be staring a sharp rise in those in the face.

Amongst this, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to enjoy a “cautious” New Years and said partygoers should take a test before heading out.

At 8am on Wednesday 29 December, there were 10,462 confirmed Covid patients in English hospitals, the highest figure since March 1.

At the beginning of December the figure was below 6,000.

While some of those patients will be in hospital for non-Covid reasons, such as a broken leg or car accident, these cases still have a big impact on the NHS.

This is because hospitals have to put Covid patients on Covid wards to isolate the virus, disrupting staffing and affecting the care those patients can get at their bed.

Across the UK, the picture is varied.







A sign on chemist’s door in Dover, Kent, informing customers they have no lateral flow test kits available
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PA)

In Scotland, the number of hospital patients is trending the same way as England, up from 526 on Christmas day to 679 on December 29.

However, in Northern Ireland, the number of hospital patients is lower than a month ago.

Data for Wales since Christmas has not been published on the government dashboard.

Omicron spread earliest in London, and now the capital is seeing a big rise in hospital cases.

But all of the country’s regions are seeing rises in hospitalisations too.

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