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Covid-19: UK records over 50,000 daily cases for first time in pandemic
29 December 2020, 16:58 | Updated: 29 December 2020, 22:03
The UK has recorded 53,135 new Covid-19 cases, a 11,750 increase on Monday's record setting figures, as Boris Johnson faces growing pressure to put the UK into a national lockdown.
This is the first time the UK has recorded over 50,000 cases in one day, since mass testing began. It is a significant increase on Monday's 41,385 cases and Sunday's 30,501.
The death toll has sadly also risen by 414, bringing the total number of deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test to 71,567.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Senior Medical Advisor for Public Health England, described the "unprecedented levels of Covid-19 infection" as "of extreme concern".
"Whilst the number of cases reported today include some from over the festive period, these figures are largely a reflection of a real increase," she explained.
"It is essential, now more than ever, that we continue to work together to stop the spread of the virus, bring the rate of infection down, and protect the most vulnerable and the NHS."
The latest rise in cases comes as doctors across the country warn NHS hospitals are becoming overwhelmed amid a surge in Covid-19 patients.
Boris Johnson is set to chair a meeting to decide on which tiers regions should be placed in, with any changes announced in Parliament on Wednesday.
More areas are expected to be placed in tougher restrictions, as cases rise in all regions of England.
Some parts of the East Midlands, such as Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, could be moved up from Tier 3 to Tier 4, while other counties such as Lincolnshire and Derbyshire may stay in Tier 3.
In London, which is currently under Tier 4 restrictions, there were 808 cases per 100,000 population in the week up to 24 December, the latest data available.
Brentwood in Essex has the highest rate in the country of 1,419.1 per 100,000, meaning one in 70 people were infected in the week up to Christmas Eve.
However, Professor Andrew Hayard, a member of the Government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), says a national lockdown is needed to prevent a "catastrophe".
The professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, said widespread Tier 4 restrictions - or even higher - are likely to be needed as the country moves towards "near-lockdown".
Similarly, the Independent SAGE group of public health experts are calling for the whole of the UK to be Tier 4, describing the situation as "critical" and "rapidly worsening".
Anthony Costello, ex-director of the World Health Organisation and member of Independent Sage tweeted: "53000 cases reported for the UK today. The government must speak and act now."
53000 cases reported for the UK today. The government must speak and act now.— Anthony Costello (@globalhlthtwit) December 29, 2020
Hospitals in England are now dealing with more Covid-19 patients than during the peak of the first wave, with figures showing there were 20,426 in NHS hospitals on Monday compared with 18,974 recorded on April 12.
Mervin Singer, professor of intensive care medicine at University College London, told LBC's Andrew Castle on Tuesday: “I've been doing intensive care for 30-odd years, I’ve never seen anything like we’re experiencing at the moment.
“Now we have the double whammy of sick people who don’t have Covid and this huge, huge surge of Covid patients who are incredibly ill and compounded by lack of staff - a lot staff members are going off sick and either having to isolate or there's a huge amount of burnout and stress - it’s completely unusual.”
Prof Singer said at some hospitals “huge numbers of patients are just piling up on the front door".
Triage tents normally reserved for major incidents like terror attacks could be set up outside hospitals overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, a senior doctor has said.
Emergency medicine consultant Simon Walsh, who works in north-east London, said staff are working in "major incident mode" and called on the Government to set out a "coherent plan" to get through the coming weeks.
Hospitals are running out of oxygen.— Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden (@sbattrawden) December 28, 2020
One trust has no non-invasive machines left.
ICUs are tweeting for volunteers to prone patients.
Transfer teams being requested to move patients 65+ miles to nearest hospital with critical care capacity.
Please. Stay at home if you can.
Meanwhile, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to stick to their own households over Hogmanny.
🛑 COVID cases are rising. Level 4 restrictions are now in place across mainland Scotland to suppress the new strain. It is especially vital that we do not mix indoors with other households, including at Hogmanay. Please plan to bring in 2021 at home with your own household.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 29, 2020
1,895 people in Scotland tested positive for Covid-19 by 9am on Tuesday, the highest daily total ever recorded in the country.