COVID cases have risen by 137,583 in England and Wales today as Omicron continues to spread.

A further 73 people have died from the virus in the last 24 hours – but only 789 of patients in hospital with Covid are on ventilators, data revealed.


Yesterday, Covid infections reached a record high for the fifth day in a row with 162,572 cases recorded in England alone.

But this figure seems to have dipped today.

Two days ago, 189,846 cases were recorded in the country and 189,213 the day before.

The UK has reported record numbers of cases over the festive period as demand for both PCRs and lateral flows soars.

But today's data only includes England and Wales, as Scotland and Northern Ireland's cases and deaths will be updated after the holidays.

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.

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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.

Meanwhile, ministers are bullish that there is no need to add any more Covid restrictions to fight the new Omicron wave. 

No10 is set to review current restrictions this week but are not expected to make any changes. 

Health minister Ed Agar said hospitalisations are not crippling the NHS – although he expects them to rise but revealed that only 789 people on ventilators. 

He said: "I'm seeing nothing in the data right in front of me in the immediate situation, that suggests a need for further restrictions."

VIRAL RISE

"We need cool, calm heads. We need to look at the data and we need to do everything possible to avoid any restrictions – restrictions or curbs must be the absolute last resort.”

The minister said Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid are monitoring the data every day. 

Current Plan B measures – for Covid passes and masks in some settings – will be reviewed this week but insiders are not expecting anything to change.

Mr Agar said that he did expect to see the number of patients in hospital to increase with cases numbers so high. 

He said: “So we're in a much stronger position than we were a year ago… but yes, I would expect the hospitalisations to continue to go up for a little while yet.” 

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