A new record of 189,846 Covid cases has been registered in the past 24 hours, government figures show, as Omicron continues ripping through the country and millions prepare to celebrate New Year’s Eve. No compatible source was found for this media.

The number is up from the 189,213 new lab-confirmed Covid cases in the previous 24-hour period reported on Thursday.

And it’s feared new-year gatherings and socialising could cause infections to spread even more rapidly.

With cases already surging, the government is under increasing pressure from the NHS to bring in fresh restrictions for the public to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with Covid patients.

A leading scientist, Peter Openshaw, has warned it is likely that the health service will be overwhelmed by the spread of the Omicron variant.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the British Medical Association have also urged ministers to ensure key workers are first in line to access tests to help ease staffing shortfalls.

A spike in demand for Covid tests has led to shortages of the kits as people try to comply with advice to limit the spread of the Omicron variant by ensuring they do not have coronavirus before socialising.Millions more people are likely to order tests in the coming days after new-year celebrations on Friday and Saturday.Meanwhile, more than a dozen hospitals have temporarily banned visits in efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus.Patients in London, Yorkshire and Essex are among those who will no longer be able to receive visitors after it was found growing […]

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