137,583 daily COVID
cases in England, Wales,
new restrictions likely

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6

LONDON: On Sunday, England and Wales recorded 137,583 daily cases and 73 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test.

The latest figures for England are down on the 162,572 new cases reported on Saturday, which had been a record number for the fifth day in a row.

Scotland reported a record 20,217 daily cases on Monday, following the bank holiday weekend. Figures published by the Scottish government show a total of 17,065 new cases were reported on New Year’s Day and 14,080 on Sunday.

According to a BBC report, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that further Covid restrictions in England must be an “absolute last resort” despite rising case numbers in the UK.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Javid said the UK must look to “live alongside” coronavirus in 2022. The number of people in intensive care was not following the same trajectory as this time last year, he said. But he warned there would be a big increase in the number of people needing NHS care in the next month.

This is “likely to test the limits” of NHS capacity more than a typical winter, he said.

Meanwhile, Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers which represents NHS trusts, said hospitalisations with Covid-19 were now increasing across the country, following the pattern seen in London.

He said people still did not know what would happen next and there were some worries about the impact of intergenerational mixing over the Christmas period.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said the next few weeks would be “very tough”.

On Friday UK daily Covid cases reached another record high of 189,846. New Year’s Eve celebrations were scaled back across much of the UK as the more infectious Omicron variant continues to drive up cases.

England is currently under the government’s Plan B restrictions which mean face coverings are compulsory in most indoor venues and on public transport, while people should work from home if they can.

The government resisted calls to impose new regulations in England in the run-up to the new year, diverging from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where tighter rules are now in place for pubs, bars and restaurants.

Mr Javid said England had “welcomed in 2022 with some of the least restrictive measures in Europe”. He said: “Curbs on our freedom must be an absolute last resort and the British people rightly expect us to do everything in our power to avert them.

“Since I came into this role six months ago, I’ve also been acutely conscious of the enormous health, social and economic costs of lockdowns. “So I’ve been determined that we must give ourselves the best chance of living alongside the virus and avoiding strict measures in the future.”

But Mr Javid said the pandemic was “far from over”. It was inevitable there would be a big increase in Covid patients requiring NHS treatment over the next month, he said, because of the lag between infections and hospital admissions.