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UK reports highest number of daily Covid cases since the pandemic began

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: British prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a press conference at 10 Downing Street.

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LONDON — The U.K. reported a record number of new daily Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, with 78,610 in the last 24 hours.

The figure was an increase from 59,610 the day before, and it surpasses the previous high of 68,053 cases reported on Jan. 8.

It underlines the dramatic surge in infections that the country is seeing ahead of the Christmas holiday period with the omicron variant expected to quickly become the dominant strain. One senior British health chief has warned that there could be a “staggering” numbers in the next few days.

Long lines have been seen outside vaccination centers in many U.K. cities and towns with the government putting its booster program on overdrive to try to get a third vaccine shot to as many people as possible.

There were 165 new Covid deaths in the U.K. on Wednesday, according to government data. While deaths remain low currently and initial reports suggest that the omicron variant might not be any more severe than other strains, health experts have repeatedly warned that the sheer number of infections could lead to mounting fatalities and an overwhelmed health-care system.

Booster program

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that at least one patient infected with the new omicron variant had died in the country. It was the first publicly confirmed death globally from the new heavily-mutated strain.

Johnson has also warned Britain faces a “tidal wave” of omicron infections, and has announced that the England would be speeding up its booster program to offer all adults a third dose of a vaccine by the end of the year. The government had previously been aiming to extend its booster scheme to all over-18s by the end of January.

So far, nearly 25 million people have had a booster shot of a vaccine in the country of 67 million. Scientists are optimistic that booster shots would improve immunity against the new, highly transmissible variant.

Some restrictions, including mask mandates in shops and instructions to work from home where possible, have been reintroduced in England throughout December.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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