The UK suffered 34,693 new coronavirus cases on Boxing Day – an increase of more than 7,000 last Saturday despite incomplete numbers, as it became known today.
However, deaths in England and Wales are down 55 percent from last week's numbers, as 210 hit the UK government's dashboard today.
Cases have increased by a third since last Saturday as 34,693 people tested positive amid a new highly infectious strain of coronavirus in England and Wales alone.
The daily death and case numbers in Northern Ireland are not updated until December 28th, while Scotland continues to upload case numbers, but not until December 28th.
196 patients died on Boxing Day in England and Wales, according to hospital numbers released today, with London suffering 44 deaths as a mutated variant skyrocketed the number of cases in the region.
About 35 of the patients who died in UK hospitals in the 24 hours ending Saturday 26 December were in Wales. According to the latest figures, there were 34 deaths in the North East and Yorkshire and 32 deaths in the Midlands.
Model builders at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found the new strain of the virus, first found in Kent, was 56 percent more contagious.
In other coronavirus news:
- Six million more people moved into Tier 4 lockdown after those who were already subject to the strictest coronavirus restrictions celebrated a Covid Christmas party as they could.
- Sweden and Spain recorded their first cases of the UK's new highly infectious variant of the coronavirus, despite a travel ban preventing the British from flying to the countries.
- The mutant strain of COVID-19 found in Kent could be more likely to affect children after modelers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found it was 56 percent more contagious.
- A Boston doctor with a shellfish allergy suffered a severe reaction, including dizziness and an increased heart rate, after receiving the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on Christmas Eve.
- British scientists at University College London Hospitals NHS (UCLH) have already injected ten people with a new antibody treatment that can give people immediate immunity to coronavirus.
Queues gather in Manchester today as shoppers take advantage of boxing day sales
Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire will move into Tier 4 starting Saturday, which was developed in response to a variant of Covid-19 discovered in the UK
The numbers for December 25th are for England only as the decentralized nation's stats were not included on the government dashboard over Christmas. And the numbers for December 26th are just England and Wales
SAGE expert warns that the new mutant Covid is likely to become the "dominant global tribe"
The mutant coronavirus, which is rapidly spreading in the UK, is likely to become the dominant global strain, a SAGE scientist warned today when Gibraltar was the sixth place outside the UK to spot a case of the new variant.
Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said the new variant would "outperform all other strains" because it has the evolutionary advantage of being easier to spread.
The strain – called VUI-202012/01 – has already been confirmed in Denmark, Gibraltar, the Netherlands, Australia and Italy. There have also been unconfirmed reports of at least one case in Belgium.
France and South Africa also believe they have cases of the mutation, but these have not been confirmed. French Health Minister Olivier Veran said it was "entirely possible" that the new variant is already circulating in France, although tests have not yet caught it, while officials in South Africa say they have found a strain similar to that of the British version is very similar.
Scotland and Wales have both picked up cases of the strain in the past few weeks, although it is predominantly spreading in London and south-east England, where it accounts for 60 percent of all new infections.
It is now present in all parts of the UK except Northern Ireland, but First Minister Arlene Foster said it was "likely" that the virus is already circulating there as well.
When asked in Sky News whether the mutated coronavirus will be the dominant strain in the world, Professor Semple said, "I suspect it will, or strains like this one.
'Because the virus has the evolutionary advantage of being able to transmit faster, it will outperform all other strains, and of course it will.
"As immunity continues to rise in the community, you will put more pressure on the virus and other variants of other variants are more likely to escape."
Last Saturday, 432 people died in UK hospitals – although that included all four nations, making today's numbers incomparable. There were 25,840 cases of coronavirus and 476 deaths last Saturday in England and Wales alone.
A mutant strain of coronavirus has created fear as the number of cases rises dramatically, particularly in London and Home Counties.
And researchers have now said there is "some evidence that the surge may be particularly pronounced in children," which begs the question of whether schools should open in January after the Christmas break.
The new variant will lead to a wave of coronavirus cases and deaths that will peak in London, the south east and east of England in spring 2021.
They said cases and deaths will peak in the rest of the country in the summer of 2021.
Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire are stepping into Tier 4, which was developed in response to today's variant of Covid-19.
The parts of Essex that are still in Tier 2, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire, including Portsmouth and Southampton but with the exception of the New Forest, will also move up to the toughest tier.
Tier 4 does not allow household shuffling, although one person can meet another person outside in a public space while all non-essential stores and businesses are closed, including indoor personal hygiene and entertainment.
Nobody can enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and residents are not allowed to stay away from home overnight.
Meanwhile, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset including North Somerset, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire, and Cheshire and Warrington are advancing to Level 3.
The additional six million that go into Tier 4 brings the total number of people with the most severe restrictions to 24 million – 43 percent of the English population. Another 24.8 million will be in Tier 3.
Many had to make the most of a Christmas Day that was already under Tier 4 restrictions in London and the South East.
Photos showed groups gathering to have their Christmas dinner on Clapham Common in London while others headed for the beach in Brighton for some fresh air.
In other parts of the country, some families have been able to visit their elderly relatives in nursing homes for celebrations. Some families in Birmingham used to hang out with grandparents in parks to exchange gifts.
Today, bargain hunters flocked to the Boxing Day sales on levels 2 and 3 while the main streets on level 4 were empty.
The British flocked to the Next stores in Liverpool, Birmingham and North Tyneside as they searched for bargains at the retail giant earlier this morning. Crowded scenes could also be seen in Newcastle.
London suffered the most, with 44 deaths as a mutant variant skyrocketed the number of cases in the region. In the picture an empty Regent Street on Boxing Day
Two women brave the elements to have a socially distant Christmas dinner with all that entails on Clapham Common, London, which is in Tier 4
Four-year-old Archie receives socially distant gifts from his grandparents in Sutton Park in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham on Christmas Day. Birmingham remains in Tier 3
Families came to Brighton for a swim on the beach yesterday for traditional Christmas Day. The area will move to Tier 4 today
Customers stood in line from 4am to take advantage of retail giant Next's Boxing Day's sales at the Bullring Shopping Center in Birmingham. The number of visitors shopping in the UK up to 10 a.m. is down 57 percent year-on-year
Bargain hunters wearing face masks can carry bags on Northumberland Street in Newcastle during the Boxing Day sale today
Around 200 people had formed a socially distant line outside of Next in Leicester by 5:50 a.m., which is subject to Tier 3 restrictions.
The long queues were in stark contrast to the scenes shot in London. Regent Street and Oxford Street remained deserted as the city continues to be subject to Tier 4 rules.
In-store sales are expected to fall 56 percent to £ 1.4 billion, according to the Center for Retail Research (CRR) and VoucherCodes.co.uk.
Meanwhile, British scientists in the UK are testing a new antibody treatment that can give people immunity instantly after exposure to Covid-19 and prevent disease.
The drug would offer immediate, long-term protection to patients when it was too late to offer a vaccine, which could potentially save thousands of lives.
It could be used as an emergency treatment for inpatients, nursing home residents, and college students to help reduce the spread of the virus.
People who live with someone who has caught or exposed to Covid could be injected with the drug to prevent infection, even if they haven't received a coronavirus vaccine.
British scientists at University College London Hospitals NHS (UCLH) have already injected ten people with the drug as part of the new Storm Chaser study to test the new treatment on 1,125 people worldwide. Participants received two consecutive doses of the drug.
They hope the treatment will provide protection from Covid-19 for anywhere from six months to a year.
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