More Than 2,000,000 Brits Had Covid In Week Leading Up To Christmas In Record High

(METRO) – A record 2.3 million people in the UK had Covid in the week ending December 23, according to the latest official estimates.

Weekly confirmed cases surged by more than 30% on the previous seven-day period, when 1.4 million cases were confirmed.

The weekly tally, revealed in the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) update, is the highest reported since comparable data began to be collected in Autumn 2020.

It comes as doctors warn of ‘significant increases’ in Covid patients needing hospital care, driven mainly by spiralling Omicron cases.

Research for the government has found the new variant is up to 70% less likely to lead to hospitalisation.

But the sheer number of infections is expected to translate to a large enough minority of severely ill patients to put critical care wards under critical pressure in the coming days and weeks.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the council at the British Medical Association, told Sky News on Friday: ‘As of yesterday, the number of people admitted and also the number of patients in hospital is at a level as high as during the lockdown earlier this year in spring, in February-March.

‘Now that is a significant number and it is increasing, so while the proportion of people who end up in hospital as a result of Omicron is smaller, we are definitely seeing significant increases.’

Daily confirmed cases are also at a record high, with 189,213 confirmed infections reported in the most recent batch of data on Thursday.

The latest NHS figures on hospitalisations show there were 2,082 Covid-19 admissions in England on December 28 – a 90% rise compared to the same day a week prior, and the highest number since February 3.

Some 11,452 people were in hospital with Covid-19 as of 8am on December 30, the highest number since February 26.

Those numbers are is still far below the second wave peak, when daily admissions reached a high of 4,134 and the number of people in hospital with the virus on a given day (January 18) reached 34,336.

Hospitalisation statistics includes people admitted to hospital in the previous 24 hours who were known to have Covid-19 as well as patients admitted for other reasons who are newly diagnosed while in care.

The NHS is currently building eight new Nightingale hubs in the car parks of existing hospitals in preparation for a surge in admissions.

The so-called ‘field hospitals’ will add an additional 800 beds nationwide, and are designed to care for recovering patients in order to free up space in ICUs.

Health bosses say they are now on a ‘war footing’ against Omicron but hope they ‘never have to use’ the new facilities.