Covid live news: 1.7 million people in UK had coronavirus last week; thousands of
France reported a record 94,124 new daily Covid-19 infections on Friday while the number of people hospitalised for the disease reached a seven-month high at close to 16,200, according to official data.
The seven-day moving average of new cases, which evens out weekly data reporting irregularities, also reached a new record of 66,417, a total that has tripled in just one month, Reuters reports.
Italy reported a second successive record daily tally of Covid-19 cases on Friday, with new cases hitting 50,599 compared to 44,595 a day earlier, the health ministry said.
The number of coronavirus-related deaths fell to 141 from 168 on Thursday, Reuters reports. Italy has registered 136,386 deaths linked to Covid-19, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the ninth-highest in the world. The country has reported 5.57 million cases to date.
Hospital admissions due to Covid have nearly doubled week-on-week in London, the latest figures show.
New data from NHS England shows that 386 Covid-19 admissions were recorded by hospitals in London on December 22, up 92% week-on-week and the highest number for a single day since February 1.
Across England, 1,246 admissions were recorded on December 22, up 55% week-on-week and the highest number for a single day since February 16.
But this is still well below the second wave peak of 4,134 admissions reported on January 12, PA reports.
Global airline carriers cancelled more than 3,000 flights over the Christmas weekend, the FlightAware website said, as a spike in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant piled on misery for travellers.
The website showed that 2,175 flights around the world had been scrapped on Friday, which is Christmas Eve and a typically heavy day for travel. Around a quarter of those flights were in the U.S..
Another 1,259 Christmas Day flights were called off globally, the website said amid a surge in Covid-19 infections driven by Omicron, Reuters reports.
Ministers could meet as soon as Monday to determine whether new restrictions are needed in England over the new year amid growing concerns that soaring Covid cases could hit public services.
They will be expected to assess new modelling from the University of Warwick, given to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) in documents published on Thursday.
Scientists have looked at the effects of a potential return to step 2 restrictions from 28 December or 1 January, lasting either two weeks, four weeks or three months until 28 March. No 10 said the data had not yet been considered by ministers.
Protesters in Guadeloupe are occupying the local legislature in the French Caribbean overseas territory, in a new standoff with Paris sparked by Covid rules.
There have been tensions in Guadeloupe and the neighbouring island French territory of Martinique during the last weeks over rules including obligatory Covid vaccinations for health workers, which have fed into long-standing local grievances.
Protesters first entered the debating chamber of the regional council while it was meeting on Thursday with several staying the night and deciding to continue their action into Friday. Councillors were able to leave peacefully.
They want to negotiate with Paris over the crisis, but officials have so far indicated that there can be no talks as long as such actions are carried out, AFP reports.
The protesters notably want all sanctions halted against health workers who have refused the Covid jab.
There were 1,171 Covid-19 hospital admissions in the UK on 20 December, government figures show.
This is up 30% week-on-week and the highest number since 19 February.
During the second wave of coronavirus, UK admissions peaked at 4,583 on 12 January, PA reports.
That’s all from me for today – thanks for reading along and happy Christmas. I’m handing over to my colleague Nadeem Badshah who will be here shortly to take you through the next few hours.
Mark, 44, will be self-isolating on Christmas Day and plans to spend it relaxing. “I’ve got my two cats with me, a pile of books, and probably catching up on a few things on Netflix in bed as well,” the Church of England priest based in Manchester said.
Meanwhile, Lauren, 31, from London, stressed that she would try to remember that tomorrow was just a day and that there were better days ahead.
My colleague Aamna Mohdin spoke to people who will be stuck in their flats and bedrooms tomorrow about how they’re keeping their spirits up: