Daily Covid-19 infections: 157,758 new cases as Boris Johnson admits NHS will face ‘considerable pressure’

A further 157,758 coronavirus cases were recorded across England and Scotland on Monday, with data indicating that case numbers are continuing to rise following the festive period.

The data, which does not include Wales or Northern Ireland, suggests a 44 per cent rise in infections from a week ago, though case numbers have fluctuated over the festive period.

The true number of infections is likely to be far higher, with the Office for National Statistics previously estimating that 2.3 million people had Covid in the week to 23 December.

42 deaths within 28 days of the positive test were recorded in England, with the official statistics on deaths and hospitalisations also patchy over Christmas and New Year across the four nations.

The data comes as Boris Johnson admitted that the NHS will face significant “pressure” in the weeks ahead due to the rise in Covid hospitalisations coupled with staff absences caused by the virus.

The Prime Minister pledged to “make sure that we look after our NHS any way that we can” as a critical incident was declared at a hospital trust in Lincolnshire “due to extreme and unprecedented workforce shortages”.

The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust said that dangerously low staffing levels had “compromised care across our hospitals” and led to “an inability to maintain” services for some patients.

Speaking on a visit to a vaccination hub, Mr Johnson conceded that “there’s no question Omicron continues to surge through the country”, adding: “I think we’ve got to recognise that the pressure on our NHS, on our hospitals, is going to be considerable in the course of the next couple of weeks, and maybe more.”

Mr Johnson suggested pressures on healthcare settings could be eased by working collaboratively across the country and moving staff between Trusts.

However, he signalled that the Government would stick with its vaccine drive and Plan B measures in England, rather than impose fresh limits on gatherings and mass events as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have done.

Mr Johnson will meet with his Cabinet and carry out a review of the current Covid rules for England by Wednesday, when Parliament returns from recess.

While new restrictions are thought to be unlikely, other preventative measures have been quietly stepped up in the past week, with face coverings required in secondary school classrooms and lateral flow testing rolled out for students.