UK Covid case numbers climb to almost 190,000 on last day of 2021

The number of confirmed Covid cases in the UK continued to rise on the last day of 2021, with a new record of 189,846 reported in the previous 24 hours.

It follows two consecutive days when the number of new cases was above 180,000, with 189,213 reported on Thursday and 183,037 on Wednesday – although the latter included a backlog in some nations of cases recorded before and during the Christmas period. Experts said the latest figures are likely to include the first infections arising from people socialising on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

NHS England also revealed there were 2,370 hospital admissions with Covid in England on 29 December, a 90% week-on-week increase and the highest daily total since 29 January. In the last winter wave, admissions peaked at 4,134 on 12 January.

Experts say the daily case figures do not include reinfections and not everyone who is infected has symptoms and takes a test, suggesting the true number of infections is likely to be higher.

Friday’s figures reported 203 people having died within 28 days of a positive Covid test. Thursday’s data had 332 recorded deaths, a steep rise from 57 on Wednesday, explained in part by NHS England not reporting hospital deaths since 24 December.

The number of Covid patients in hospital in England increased to 12,395 on Friday, from 11,452 the day before. A total of 859 people were in hospital in Scotland with Covid as of Thursday, up from 810 the day before.

According to a new estimate on Friday from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), one in 25 people in England had Covid before Christmas, including one in 15 in London.

Based on swabs collected from randomly selected households in England, the ONS said an estimated 4% of the community had Covid in the week ending 23 December – equating to about 2,024,700 people. The week before, about one in 35 people were estimated to be infected.

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