After days of reporting delays, the U.K. recorded 129, 471 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday — the country’s highest ever number of positive tests.
Results over the festive period have painted an incomplete picture of the cases and deaths, with a much lower 98,515 new cases results reported Monday: a significant drop compared to Christmas Eve’s 122,486 positive results.
The comparatively low case number is down to delays in reporting. On Monday, England was the only U.K. nation to publish test results. On Sunday, only England and Wales reported results and on Saturday — Christmas Day — only England did.
Even Tuesday’s result isn’t perfect. It does not include data from Northern Ireland or Scotland, but it does include weekend data for Wales.
Delays in reporting are down to a number of factors, including planned pauses over the holidays. This will continue into the New Year, meaning some results won’t be published consistently until early January.
Tests are also reportedly taking longer than usual to process as demand has risen throughout the country. And the Christmas break is likely to have put extra pressure on laboratories.
Hospital cases growing
Hospital cases are also rising. On Tuesday, England reported 9,546 people in hospital had Covid-19. That’s the second day of increases around the 1,000 mark after 8,474 were reported Monday.
It’s important to note that not all of these patients will be in hospital because of Covid-19 symptoms. Some will have tested positive on admission for other issues, and that some will have developed the disease in hospital. And although patient numbers are rising, the number on ventilation remains stable at around 750.
Last winter, the number of positive hospital patients peaked at 39,254 across the UK on January 18th. Many required intensive supervision, putting critical care units under serious pressure.
Given high vaccination rates and seemingly milder Omicron symptoms, hospital leaders hope they won’t face the same rate of severe disease this time round.
But as the highly infectious variant rages around the country, widespread staff absence means hospitals may be vulnerable to even small increases in Covid-19 patients.
Deaths at a lower level
The one area in which numbers seem to be dropping is deaths, with just 18 reported on Tuesday. This low number is partly because only England and Wales reported death figures. But the seven-day average shows numbers seem to have been falling consistently over the last two months.
On 2nd November, the seven-day average of deaths was at 171. But by Christmas Eve, it had fallen to 106.