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Record in England with 162,572 new COVID-19 cases

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London, Jan 1 (Reuters) – A total of 162,572 new COVID-19 cases were reported in England on Saturday, with the epidemic killing another 154 people, a record.

As it is New Year’s, daily data does not include Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The daily number of confirmed cases across the UK broke records in December, which is linked to the presence of a highly contagious omicron variant. However, hospitalizations and deaths are at an all-time low compared to previous waves.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have imposed restrictions on nightclubs, social restrictions on pubs, and restrictions on the number of people allowed to assemble.

England, with more than 80 per cent of the British population, has no restrictions. Health Secretary Sajid Javed said the new regulations would only be introduced as a “complete last resort”.

The UK government has asked public sector officials to look into their contingency plans in the event of a 10% to 25% non-attendance rate.

The government expects businesses and utilities to be disrupted as a record number of daily infections and positive people are forced to isolate themselves for at least seven days, the statement said.

The Cabinet Office, which co-ordinates the government’s efforts, said it had asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to work with ministers to develop strong contingency plans in their respective areas.

(Reporting by Estelle Sherban; French edition by Elizabeth Pino)