Covid-19: UK sees new record high of 57,725 cases in 24 hours

2 January 2021, 15:53 | Updated: 3 January 2021, 06:57

Ambulances were seen parked outside the Nightingale Hospital in London as the capital struggles with the number of Covid patients.
Ambulances were seen parked outside the Nightingale Hospital in London as the capital struggles with the number of Covid patients. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

By Joe Cook

The UK has reported another daily record for the number of cases reported in one day, with 57,725 cases reported in the last 24 hours.

This is the fifth day the figure has been above 50,000, although today's total includes cases not reported by Northern Ireland yesterday.

Sadly the death toll has also risen by a further 445 people, bringing the total number of people who have died within 28 days of being diagnosed with the virus to 74,570.

Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director for Public Health England, said: "These numbers are a stark reminder that, as we leave 2020 behind we are not yet out of the woods."

She called on people to follow the rules to ensure "we don't waste the huge sacrifices we all made last year".

"Transmission is very high and many lives are still tragically being lost," Ms Doyle added.

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The worrying latest figures come as the NHS faces unprecedented strain, as the number of patients in UK hospitals with Covid-19 is now well above the April peak.

On Friday there were 22,534 patients in hospital with Covid-19 in England, a slight decline from 22,728 on Thursday.

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Case numbers are expected to rise in the coming days as the impact of mixing on over Christmas is seen in the figures.

Earlier on Saturday Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians said the current figures are "fairly mild" compared to the numbers expected in the coming weeks.

"All hospitals that haven't had the big pressures that they've had in the South East, and London and South Wales, should expect that it's going to come their way," he warned.

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At least three quarters of England, most of Scotland and all of Wales, and Northern Ireland are currently in a strict Tier 4 lockdown.

English Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is under growing pressure to keep all schools closed after the Government made a U-turn in London.

Mr Williamson on Friday confirmed that all London primary schools will remain shut next week as the capital battles with high levels of coronavirus infections.

But experts have urged the Government to close schools nationwide to help tackle the rise in infections.

National Education Union joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said her union is calling for all schools to close for two weeks and said their members have the right not to teach in person if they feel unsafe.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Headteachers says it has begun legal action against the Department for Education over the government's insistence schools must reopen.

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The nation was offered a glimmer of hope in the last month of 2020, as two vaccines were approved, but there have been warnings a vaccine shortage is likely to be a "reality" in the coming months.

In a joint letter signed by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and the chief medical officers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland warned the possibility of vaccine shortages is a "reality which cannot be wished away"."

We have to ensure that we maximise the number of eligible people who receive the vaccine," it read.