UK reports highest weekly number of new Covid cases since January
The UK has reported its highest number of weekly Covid-19 cases since January, new figures show.
A total of 336,893 new infections were recorded in the past seven days, including 45,691 on Tuesday, government data revealed.
This is the highest number for a seven-day period since the week to 16 January, when 339,956 were reported.
Weekly cases during the second wave of the virus peaked at 417,620, for the seven days to 9 January.
The latest data also showed a further 180 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 171,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The data followed a warning from Boris Johnson that the omicron variant appeared to be “more transmissible” than delta.
The prime minister updated the cabinet on the latest situation on Tuesday morning, as a scientist warned cases of the omicron variant in the UK are soon expected to be higher than in some African countries placed on the travel red list.
Prof Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, told BBC Breakfast there was “very little point” in having travel restrictions if case numbers exceeded those in red list countries.
A total of 437 cases of omicron had been confirmed across the UK as of Tuesday, including 333 in England, 99 in Scotland and five in Wales.
Dr Jeffrey Barrett, director of the Covid-19 genomics initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said he thought omicron would take over from Delta in the UK as the dominant variant of coronavirus “within a matter of weeks”.