Covid: UK hits record case numbers for second day and Wales considers Christmas measureson December 16, 2021 at 5:42 pm

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Thursday evening.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Thursday evening. We’ll have another update for you in the morning.

1. Record Covid cases for second day running as booster numbers rise

A record number of daily coronavirus cases have been reported across the UK for the second day in a row, with 88,376 infections confirmed on Thursday – up by nearly 10,000 on the day before. However, there was also a new high of daily booster vaccines with 745,183 top-up or third doses given on Wednesday, which is over 300,000 extra jabs than were administered just one week ago. England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, has warned Omicron variant cases could rise “incredibly fast”, but its peak might subside quickly due to the booster rollout.

Two women wearing masks walk in Cardiff in front of a Merry Christmas sign

Image source, PA Media

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2. Welsh government considers Christmas measures

Ministers in Wales have been meeting to consider what measures to announce in response to the growing spread of Omicron, as they seek to slow the Covid-19 variant’s advance. The Welsh government’s cabinet are set to consider whether to impose legal restrictions or focus on advice to limit social contact, or a combination of the two. Earlier, Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford said Omicron will hit the country “very quickly and very steeply” in January and many services – from the NHS to bin collections – could be affected if lots of workers are off sick.

Women in face masks looking at Christmas trees

Image source, PA Media

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3. Queen cancels pre-Christmas family lunch

The Queen has cancelled her traditional pre-Christmas lunch for extended family as a precautionary measure following the UK’s surge in Omicron cases. A source said it was felt the annual event could put too many people’s Christmas plans at risk. The decision comes as families across the UK consider their Christmas plans in the light of the country’s biggest Covid surge yet. England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty yesterday advised people prioritise events “that really matter” to avoid the risk of infection.

The Queen, pictured in 2019

Image source, PA Media

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4. France to drastically restrict travel from UK

France is tightening Covid restrictions for travellers arriving from the UK, as the government in Paris tries to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. French prime minister Jean Castex’s office said that from Saturday travellers would have to give a compelling reason for coming to France, while all arrivals will have to provide a negative Covid test less than 24 hours old and isolate for at least two days. The UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed lorry drivers would be exempt from the new restrictions, following fears over the impact on supply chains.

Christmas market in Colmar, north-eastern France. File photo

Image source, Reuters

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5. PM denies ‘stealth’ lockdown and Chancellor returns over hospitality concerns

Boris Johnson has insisted England is not being put into lockdown by stealth, despite accusations of doing just that from some of his own MPs. The prime minister said he was not telling the public to cancel events, but rather urging them to exercise “caution” over Christmas. However, several Conservative MPs have accused the PM of damaging many businesses, with Tory backbencher arguing the government was “putting hospitality into effective lockdown”. Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to cut short a trip to the US to for talks with business leaders concerned over Omicron, after questions were raised over his absence.

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Government statistics show 146,973 people have now died, with 146 deaths reported in the latest 24-hour period. In total, 11,097,51 people have tested positive, up 88,376 in the latest 24-hour period. Latest figures show 7,579 people in hospital. In total, 51,360,976 people have received their first vaccination

And there’s more…

Want to know more about what we know about the symptoms of the Omicron variant so far? Our health editor Michelle Roberts taken a look here.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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