An additional 53,285 people in the UK have been diagnosed with Covid-19, which means more than 50,000 positive tests have been announced for four days in a row.
The daily case count is up 63 percent in one week from 32,275 last Friday, meaning an astonishing 253,720 people have received positive test results as of Monday this week.
And 613 more people have died from the virus, an official figure of 74,125 deaths. According to records from the Ministry of Health, 23,823 people were hospitalized with the virus as of December 28.
The death toll was unpredictable this week after a string of public holidays that hospitals don't keep recording them as reliably. Death certificates were lower than usual over the long Christmas weekend, dropping to 230 deaths on Boxing Day, then higher than expected by midweek and rising to 981 on Wednesday December 30th. The weekly average is 554 deaths per day.
Coronavirus infections have risen over the Christmas holidays, with the toughest lockdown measures for most of the country being postponed until Boxing Day or even later, allowing thousands of families to mingle on December 25.
The cases are being driven by the new superinfectious variant of the coronavirus that emerged in the southeast and has since spread across the country.
And with London, Kent and Essex now at the epicenter of England's second wave – two-thirds of today's cases (33,573) have come from these three regions alone – the pressure on hospitals in the region is mounting, and some are saying they are are already in "disaster mode". even dealing with admissions from a week or two ago when the cases were lower.
Panic has gripped the NHS in London, with grim reports of ambulances queuing on the street outside the A&E departments and a doctor warning that she and her colleagues are already making difficult decisions about which patients should be given ventilators .
London has once again become the center of the English crisis. 15,089 of the cases confirmed today have been diagnosed in the capital, and local hospitals report that their wards are bursting at the seams.
Second worst was the southeast, where a further 10,844 cases were confirmed today, followed by the east of England with 7,640.
It was in these regions that the new variant emerged, which is possibly 56 percent more contagious and spreads so quickly that normal blocking measures do not work, and in which it now accounts for the majority of infections.
In the other regions, in which the new variant does not seem to have gained a foothold, the infections are significantly lower, possibly because they were already blocked when they developed.
For the Northwest, 5,164 cases were announced today, of which 3,079 in the East Midlands, 2,860 in the West Midlands, 2,175 in Yorkshire and Humber, 2,104 in the Southwest and 1,340 in the Northeast.
So far, there is no evidence that the UK's second wave is slowing or likely to end anytime soon.
Although the number of infections and hospital admissions fell during the November national lockdown, they rose again when the restrictions were lifted.
The animal system appears to have worked in the north of England, which was the focus of the outbreak in the fall, but it came too late in the southeast, east and London, where cases got out of hand over Christmas.
Widespread rules were put in place just that week, with Tier 4 imposed on 44 million people in total and Tier 3 on the rest of the country except for the remote Isles of Scilly by Wednesday December 30th.
It will now take two or three weeks for these measures to take effect and, if they work, reduce the transmission of the virus.
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