Boris Johnson announcement: Highest Covid hospital case numbers since FEBRUARY but new data shows outbreak IS slowing

THE number of patients in hospital with coronavirus in England has climbed to its highest level since February, new figures show.

The latest data from NHS England shows there were 11,452 people in hospital in England with Covid-19 as of 8am on Thursday, up 61% from a week earlier and the highest number since February 26.

The London region had the highest number of beds occupied by confirmed Covid patients, at 3,477, up 66% week-on-week and the highest number since February 16. During the second wave of coronavirus the number of Covid patients in hospital peaked in both England and London on January 18, at 34,336 and 7,917 respectively.

The data, published on Thursday, also showed there were 2,082 Covid-19 hospital admissions in England on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, new data has revealed that coronavirus infections are slowing, amid a spread in Omicron cases in older age groups. But experts have warned that there has been a worrying rise in cases in Brits aged 55-75, which could put pressure on the NHS.

Omicron is now responsible for 90 per cent of cases in the UK and has taken over from the Delta variant.

Read our Covid-19 live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Milica Cosic

    Omicron symptoms you should look out for

    There are a number of different symptoms you might have, including some you might not expect, such as nausea.

    While those infected with the Omicron variant might experience the traditional symptoms from the previous strains there are a few more symptoms you might not know.

    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Sore throat
    • Runny nose
    • Pink eye or conjunctivitis
    • Fever
    • Hair loss

    Read more here.

    BREAKING: Key hospital data due TODAY

    KEY Covid data that will sway Boris Johnson's decision on whether to slam on restrictions in the New Year will be revealed today.

    The PM is expected to announce next week if tighter measures will be imposed to wrestle the spread of Omicron after mulling crunch hospitalisation stats.

    Mr Johnson last night promised the country is in an "incomparably better" position that last year to fight Covid as he decides on whether tougher rules are needed.

    But he is keeping an especially close eye on hospitalisations amid warnings the NHS is coming under strain.

    Read more here.

    PM praises Britain’s booming economy

    Boris Johnson praised Britain’s booming economy — the fastest growing in the G7 — which he puts down to the incredible rollout and the spirit of the public to get jabbed.

    The PM said: “And there is one reason, one overriding reason, why the UK has been able to maintain the most open economy and society of any major European economy.

    “That is because British people have responded heroically, voluntarily, and in almost incredible numbers to the call to get vaccinated.

    “And it’s precisely because of that huge national effort that we can celebrate tonight at all.”

    • Milica Cosic

      Boris Johnson calls on unjabbed Brits to get vaxxed

      BORIS Johnson has demanded Covid jab refuseniks make a New Year’s resolution to get vaccinated.

      He pleaded in his New Year Eve address: “I want to speak directly to all those who have yet to get fully vaccinated.

      “The people who think the disease can’t hurt them, look at the people going into hospital now. That could be you.

      “Look at the intensive care units and the miserable, needless suffering of those who did not get their booster. That could be you.

      “So, make it your New Year’s resolution. Find a walk-in centre or make an online appointment. Get that jab and do something that will make 2022 a happy New Year for us all.”

    • Milica Cosic

      PM's decision next week

      Boris Johnson is due to decide next week on whether Covid-19 rules should be introduced that ban indoor drinking in pubs.

      The PM is unlikely to recall Parliament to rubberstamp legally-binding lockdown restrictions such as the loathed Rule of Six, sources claimed on Monday.

      But that does not rule out country-wide "guidance" which cannot be enforced by cops and does not need Commons approval.

      Despite this, he has hailed the booster campaign for putting us in an "incomparably better" position to fight Covid than last year.

    • Milica Cosic

      NHS chiefs say Covid restrictions are not yet needed 

      NHS leaders have been reassured that despite a rise in hospital admissions across the UK, the threshold for new rules has not been crossed.

      Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, told the BBC: "We know that the government has set a high threshold on introducing extra new restrictions.

      "So on that basis, trust leaders can see why the government's arguing that in the absence of a surge of seriously ill patients coming into hospital, that threshold hasn't yet been crossed.

      "But we still don't know if the surge will come and indeed we're exactly talking about the preparations that we're making or that surge right now.

      "So in terms of restrictions, I think we're in exactly the same place we've been in for the last fortnight, which is the government needs to be ready to introduce tighter restrictions at real speed should they be needed."

    • Milica Cosic

      BREAKING: Northampton hospital bans all visitors

      Patients being treated at Northampton General Hospital will no longer be able to receive visitors in a 'difficult decision' for the trust.

      It comes after NHS chiefs today said that further restrictions were not needed, but that changes would be made if Omicron surged further.

      Northampton General Trust is yet to release an official statement, but updated people on it's decision via social media.

      In a tweet a representative said: "The health, wellbeing and safety of all our people, including patients and colleagues continues to be our top priority.

      "We have therefore taken the difficult decision to suspend visiting at the hospital from today.

      "In these limited circumstances visiting will be possible: Patients who are in the last days of life; patients who are receiving a new significant life changing or life limiting diagnosis; a birthing partner accompanying a woman in labour & in the immediate post-natal period.

      "A parent or appropriate adult visiting a child; patients suffering mental health issues, such as dementia, a learning disability or autism, where not having visitors will cause the patient distress; critically ill patients in critical care unit, high dependency areas or A&E.

      "We will have virtual visiting facilities in place. We apologise for having to take this step as we are fully aware of the impact suspending visiting has on our patients and those close to them. Thank you for your patience and understanding."

    • Milica Cosic

      Local lockdowns WON’T return

      Government insiders claim that local lockdowns will NOT be making a comeback but a decision on national restrictions could still be just DAYS away.

      Downing Street has ruled out imposing loathed regional lockdowns – which saw cities’ rules change depending on their own Covid data.

      But a UK-wide lockdown is still on the cards, meaning London’s rising Covid hospitalisation figures could doom the rest of the UK to a shut down.

      Measures under consideration include the loathed Rule-of-Six for indoor mixing, The Daily Telegraph reports.

    • Milica Cosic

      Shortage of Covid tests ‘very worrying’ says scientist

      A leading scientist has warned it is “very worrying” that a shortage of Covid-19 tests could lead to people mixing over the New Year without being able to see whether they are infectious.

      Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said the conditions at a New Year’s Eve gathering were “perfect” for spreading coronavirus.

      The UK Government is scrambling to secure supplies of tests from around the world to meet a surge in demand as people try to comply with guidance to limit the spread of the Omicron variant.

      In a letter to MPs, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the supply of lateral flow tests (LFD) was being tripled in January and February from a pre-Omicron plan of 100 million to 300 million per month.

      “To respond to anticipated demand over the coming few weeks we are buying hundreds of millions more LFD tests, bringing new products on board and accelerating their deployment to the public,” he said.

      But “in light of the huge demand for LFDs seen over the last three weeks, we expect to need to constrain the system at certain points over the next two weeks to manage supply over the course of each day, with new tranches of supply released regularly throughout each day”.

    • Louis Allwood

      Sign up to The Sun's Jabs Army campaign

      The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

      Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

      Boris Johnson has begged millions of people to book their first, second or booster jabs in now to protect them from the virus, admitting that cases of omicron are still rising.

    • Louis Allwood

      Terrified kids sob as heartless antivaxxers storm panto

      Groups of tots gathered to watch Jack and the Beanstalk at the Milton Keynes Theatre looked on in horror as placard-clad activists took over the foyer during the interval.

      One theatre-goer told The Sun how kids cried while "aggressive" adults shouted at them to "take off their masks".

      Footage shows protesters screaming "no vaccine passports" and blowing whistles – while clutching signs plastered with the words "don't jab our kids".

      Alfie Drake, 19, was watching the matinee show with his younger sisters, aged 12 and 16, and his two-year-old cousin.

      He watched in horror as the group stormed in while he was walking down to the bar to buy a drink.

      Alfie said: "I am shocked at what we had seen. This panto was for all families to enjoy with their kids.

      "It's disgraceful that older men and women were loudly shouting and blowing whistles and making some kids cry.

      "When the panto resumed, most people who had initially been watching had left.

      "They came across very aggressive and were shouting at families with their kids to take off their masks."

      He added: "This is the panto, not parliament."

    • Louis Allwood

      ALL Southern trains into London Victoria cancelled

      Southern Rail confirmed all journeys to and from the central London station have been called off until January 10 due to Covid-related staff shortages.

      Trains will no longer call at London Victoria, Battersea Park, Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Common.

      Routes from further afield – including from Southampton, Hove, Hastings and East Grinstead – are being diverted so passengers can reach the capital.

      But Clapham Junction to Milton Keynes, East Croydon to London Bridge, and Epsom to London Bridge will not run at all.

      The Gatwick Express to and from London Victoria is currently suspended until January 3 due to rail works.

      It comes as millions of Londoners gear up to celebrate New Year's Eve in the capital.

    • Louis Allwood

      Third of Covid patients admitted for other reasons

      The latest NHS figures showed the proportion of "incidental" virus admissions in England has risen to 29 per cent.

      It has led to suggestions the official figures on hospitalisations were misleading.

      "Incidental" Covid admissions are made up of people who go to hospital for reasons unrelated to the virus, such as a broken bone or another disease.

      They then happen to be found to be Covid positive – either a mild case that wasn't their main complaint or they catch it in hospital.

      Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the MailOnline: "This is a nonsense. It’s almost certain that admissions for Covid are far lower than the figures suggest.

      "We cannot make decisions based on hospital admissions when we don’t know how many were admitted for other reasons and subsequently tested positive."

    • Louis Allwood

      360 hotspots where Covid cases are rising

      CORONAVIRUS cases are rising in 360 places and this interactive map reveals if you local authority is one of them.

      Cases of the Omicron variant have continued to rise, but experts have said that most people are suffering from cold-like symptoms.

      Omicron is now responsible for 90 per cent of cases in the UK and has taken over from the Delta variant.

      Data in the seven days up to December 25 shows that just 17 places have seen a fall in cases and the map above shows current infection rates.

      London had been the epicentre of the Omicron outbreak and while cases still remain high in the capital, many of the most infected boroughs have seen a fall in cases.

    • Louis Allwood

      Warm up for New Year’s Eve

      Revellers were seen out in Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and London partying the night away as the Government urged Brits to party on this festive season – but with caution.

      New Year party plans were thrown into chaos after health bosses teased the idea of a post-Christmas lock due to a surge in Covid cases due to the highly infectious Omicrom variant.

    • Louis Allwood

      Symptoms not to ignore

      Experts across the globe have highlighted at least eight early warning signs of Omicron you should never ignore.

      If you have Covid symptoms of any kind, you should get a PCR test and self-isolate until the results come back.

      The early symptoms

      Going by reports from cases in the UK, South Africa and US, these are common early warning signs of Omicron:

      • Scratchy throat
      • Lower back pain
      • Runny nose/congestion
      • Headache
      • Fatigue 
      • Sneezing
      • Night sweats
      • Body aches 

      Has the capital seen the Omicron peak?

      Analysis of infections in the week before Christmas shows the rise started to flatten off.

      Around 30,000 people in London tested positive on December 20, before that number started to fall.

      This continued for the next two days, forcing the average infection rate to flatten, with cases now already falling in some boroughs.

      The most recent case data, from December 27, showed around 5,000 Londoners had tested positive, although this set is still incomplete.

      How will the New Year look for cases?

      Professor Peter Openshaw, an immunologist at Imperial College London and SAGE scientist, told MailOnline: “There are many reasons for the apparent decline, a genuine decline being amongst them.’

      “I hope this is good news, but really urge caution.”

      He warned, however, data backlogs from Christmas and New Year partying could result in another wave of cases in London.

      Professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, added it is “difficult to say” if cases peaked in London, as testing patterns changed over Christmas

      But he said: “London cases will certainly begin to fall eventually, as the virus runs out of people to infect.

      “It’s reasonably clear that case numbers in London are at least rising more slowly, but we just can’t be sure when the peak is reached – not yet anyway.”

      Go get boosted

      A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

      Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

      The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

      Keep an eye on your skin

      It's an idea to keep an eye on your skin, while infection rates are still high – as the variant can cause rashes, sufferers have reported.

      According to the ZOE Covid Symptom Study App, people who have caught the variant say they experience skin rashes.

      The experts have described them as "key" symptoms to notice.

      There are two different kinds of rashes logged by Brits who test positive.

      The first is more like a hive-type rash that appears suddenly.

      It can show up in the form of raised bumps and is very itchy – it can often start with intense itchy palms or soles.

      The second is more like a prickly heat rash that pops up all over the body, although more common on the elbows, knees and the backs of hands and feet.

      What does a faint positive line mean?

      Supplies of lateral flow tests have been running low this week as people scramble to get hold of them ahead of New Year.

      London-based A&E doctor Nathan explained what a faint line could mean, before and after the 30 minute window.

      He said: “Essentially, if *any* line appears before the end of the interpretation window (check leaflet, usually this is 30 minutes), then this is a *positive* test and you must isolate and book a PCR. 

      “However, if a line appears *after* the interpretation window then this does NOT count as a positive test. You do not need to isolate and you do not need to book a PCR.”

      But if you have symptoms, regardless of the lateral flow test result, you should isolate and book a PCR test, he said.

      • Louis Allwood

        4,000 extra hospital beds to help Omicron Covid surge

        Up to 4,000 extra beds will be created in eight “Nightingale hubs” across England, under the plans.

        Health chiefs are already equipping eight temporary wards in preparation for a spike in pandemic cases, with dozens more on standby.

        It comes as the number of patients being treated for Covid on NHS wards hit 10,462 in England yesterday.

        Hospital occupancy is up 48 per cent from a week earlier and the highest number since March 1.

        However, it is still significantly down from the January peak, when more than 34,000 beds were filled.

      • Louis Allwood

        Patients being treated for Covid on NHS wards hit 10,462

        The number of patients being treated for Covid on NHS wards hit 10,462 in England yesterday.

        Hospital occupancy is up 48 per cent from a week earlier — the highest since March 1.

        However, it is still significantly down from the January peak, when more than 34,000 beds were filled.

        And in a further sign vaccines are protecting against the worst effects, the number of patients taken to intensive care and placed on ventilators remains almost unchanged throughout December.

        The first major study into Omicron mortality data has also suggested it causes less than 25 per cent of the number deaths as previous Covid waves.

      • Louis Allwood

        Omicron variant now represents 90% of community cases

        The Omicron variant now represents 90 per cent of community cases in England, the UK Health and Security Agency said yesterday.

        The Department for Health and Social care announced another £30million funding boost for care homes for the next month to try and help ride out the mutant wave and tackle staff shortages.

        Hospital car parks and gyms will be transformed into Covid surge wards as the NHS goes on a “war footing” against Omicron.

        Up to 4,000 extra beds will be created in “Nightingale hubs” across England, under the plans.

      • Louis Allwood

        PM vows booster jabs will save New Year’s Eve

        Boris Johnson said doctors had told him up to 90 per cent of new Covid patients had not received their third jab.

        He said the rollout of the first two vaccinations plus the take-up of the booster had been key to saving the chance for partygoers to “cautiously” see in 2022 tomorrow night.

        And the PM said he was confident everyone would be offered one by his New Year deadline.

        But he warned the “overwhelming majority” of Brits in intensive care had not had three jabs.

        Some 2.4 million double-jabbed people are yet to take up the offer of a booster.

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