Confirmed daily Covid cases in the UK hit yet another high on Thursday, with 189,213 reported in the past 24 hours, while the number of people in hospital and deaths have also risen, data reveals.
On Wednesday 183,037 daily cases were reported for the whole of the UK – a record at the time – although this figure included a backlog in some nations from before and during the Christmas period, with five days of case data included for Northern Ireland. Thursday’s newly reported cases for Wales covered a two-day period.
But experts have warned daily case figures do not include reinfections and not everyone who is infected has symptoms and takes a test, meaning despite cases reaching new highs the true number of infections will be higher still.
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The latest data also reveals that a further 332 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test.
The figures are a steep rise on the 57 deaths reported on Wednesday. Experts say the jump is, in part, because NHS England has not reported hospital deaths since 24 December.
The number of Covid patients in hospital has also increased in England, according to the latest data, with 11,452 reported on Thursday.
In Scotland, it was announced on Thursday that there were 810 patients in hospital with recently confirmed Covid, an increase of 19.3% compared with the day before.
Commenting on Twitter, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the record case figures reflect that Omicron is highly infectious.
“Just as notable than cases is the steep rise in hospital occupancy, the largest single day increase in a while – a reminder that even if there is a lower percentage hospitalised through Omicron, sheer volume will still put acute pressure on NHS – and result in serious illness for many,” she wrote, adding that she was “appealing to everyone” to follow public health advice as the new year approached.
In a written statement Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales, said that the public health situation in Wales “has deteriorated in the last week as the Omicron wave has arrived”, adding that while hospitalisations are lower than in previous waves, they are also are starting to increase.
According to the latest figures the number of Covid patients in hospital in Wales is now 446, a 49% increase compared with last week. However, Drakeford said Wales was not reporting a rise in the number of Covid patients needing critical care.
Prof Christina Pagel, director of UCL’s Clinical Operational Research Unit, said that reported case levels in England are now more than twice as high as the previous peak last January, and have not yet peaked, while cases are rising in all groups apart from under-10s. Hospital admissions, she added, are also rising in all age groups.
While data suggested fewer admissions are leading to intensive care, Pagel said the situation was worrying. “An NHS crisis based on the wards instead of ICU is still an NHS crisis,” she tweeted.