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UK records 178,250 new Covid cases and 229 deaths in 24 hrs

The UK recorded 178,250 new Covid cases on Friday and 229 deaths, according to official figures.

Infections are down on the 179,756 recorded on Thursday. The number of cases has fallen by five percent on a week ago, when there were 189,846 new infections recorded.

The number of deaths is slightly lower than yesterday’s 231.

However it is the third consecutive day there have been more than 200 deaths recorded in the daily figures.

On Wednesday, 334 deaths were reported, the highest daily figure since March 2 last year. However this figure includes a backlog of hospital deaths reported by NHS England covering the period January 1 to 4.
There were 21,558 new cases recorded in London in Friday’s figures.

England’s fourth wave of Covid, sparked by the arrival of the Omicron variant, is still growing, with data showing that England’s R number increased to between 1.2 and 1.5 this week.
This has risen on the previous estimate of 1.0 to 1.2, published by the UKHSA on 23 December.

An R number between 1.2 and 1.5 means that for every 10 people infected, they will on average infect between 12 and 15 other people.

However the R number is dropping in London, and is now estimated to be between 0.9 and 1.2.

Despite concerns about the number of cases in the UK travel rules relaxed on Friday.

From 4am today, fully vaccinated travellers and under-18s arriving in the UK no longer need to have taken a pre-departure lateral flow test.

They will be able to take a lateral flow test rather than the more expensive PCR version for their post-arrival test from 4am on Sunday.

Downing Street has played down claims that easing Covid travel rules will weaken the ability of the authorities to detect new variants of the virus.

The Times reported that Health Secretary Sajid Javid argued strongly against ending the requirements for travellers to the UK to take a pre-departure PCR test and a further PCR test within two days of arriving.
The newspaper said that he warned that it would increase the risk that more deadly and transmissible strains could circulate in the country undetected.

A No 10 spokesman said: “Ministers collectively agreed to these changes to our international travel rules, including the changes around day-two PCR testing

“We have maintained a requirement for passengers to take a post-arrival lateral flow test and if that test is positive they will still need to take a PCR test which will help us identify variants.”