COVID-19: UK reports another 18,447 coronavirus cases and 144 deaths
Another 18,447 coronavirus cases and 144 related deaths have been reported in the UK. Last Sunday, the figures were 17,272 and 231. Today’s deaths are made up of 138 in England, four in Northern Ireland and two in Scotland.
All the latest coronavirus updates from the UK and around the world The official government figure records fatalities within 28 days of a positive test. Coronavirus-linked deaths in the UK now stand at 64,170.
Total cases over the past seven days are up 19.1% – or 20,245 – on the previous week, with 126,163 people testing positive.
More from Covid-19
It is this rise that is fuelling fears that some areas, such as London, could move to the top tier of restrictions when the rules for England are reviewed next week. UK deaths over the past seven days have dipped by 2%, with 61 fewer recorded, at 2,941.
The coronavirus vaccine rollout is set to step up a gear next week when some GP surgeries begin inviting over-80s to get the jab. Another key prong in the government’s coronavirus plan – mass community testing of people without symptoms – is also to intensify. From Monday, a total of 67 local authorities in Tier 3 can begin enhanced testing programmes using quick turnaround tests.
More than 1.6 million of the lateral flow tests, which use similar technology to a pregnancy test, will be delivered. It comes amid warnings about the potential dangers of Christmas, when people have more freedom to mix between 23 and 27 December. NHS bosses are concerned the UK could follow in the footsteps of the US, which experienced record hospitalisations and infections following Thanksgiving, when millions of families got together.
They urged Boris Johnson to exercise “extreme caution” when making the decision to move any areas into a lower COVID-19 tier. Speaking to Sky News, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said health workers were “really worried”, adding that due to a surge in COVID-19 patients and a rise in infection rates, hospitals are facing a difficult period. “Any extra social contact equals virus spread,” he said.
However, GP Dr Ellie Cannon told Sky News Christmas could still be safe if people took precautions.
“My advice to anybody is you can be as safe as possible – open windows, lots of handwashing,” she said.
“It’s nice to see each other but if you can maybe avoid a hug or avoid a kiss, don’t sit around after Christmas dinner chatting over a board game – maybe you’re better off going for a walk.”
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