More than 2MILLION people in England had Covid on December 23

More than 2MILLION people in England had Covid on December 23: Surveillance study estimates nation’s Omicron outbreak soared in size by 70% in a week to strike one in 25 people – as data shows infections are now rising quickest in over-65s

  • Department of Health-calculated infection rates reveal cases are now surging among older age groups
  • The sharpest rise is among 75 to 79-year-olds, where they are up 143 per cent week-on-week
  • A senior NHS boss today said there was no evidence that new lockdown measures were needed 

More than 2million people in England had Covid just before Christmas, official surveillance suggested today, as data showed infections are now rising fastest in over-65s.

Office for National Statistics weekly swabbing of 100,000 people estimated 2.03million had the virus on any given day over the week to December 23.

This marked a 70 per cent surge on the previous seven days, and was equivalent to one in 25 people having the virus. It was a record number of infections. 

Cases were highest in epicentre London, where one in 15 people were estimated to be infected, followed by the South East and East of England, at one in 30. Cases were lowest in the North East at one in 45.

Separate data showed infections are now rising fastest among over-65s — the age group most vulnerable to the virus — where they are now doubling every week.

Experts said this would ‘directly feed’ into hospitalisations and that a spike was ‘certain’. But they added that the booster drive, which has reached 90 per cent of older adults, will provide an extra layer of protection.

The number of Covid patients in England’s hospitals yesterday broke through 11,000 for the first time since early February. And in London they have surged above 400 a day.

But a senior NHS boss today said there was no need for any new lockdown measures because Covid cases have remained stable. The chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson added that the absence of a surge in hospitalisations of severly ill older people justified the Government’s current position. 

Official figures break down England’s population into five-year age groups, and show cases are rising fastest among 75 to 79-year-olds. 

Their infection rate surged 143 per cent in a week, from 137.9 to 334.9 cases per 100,000 people. They were followed by 80 to 84-year-olds, where cases surged 133 per cent from 107.8 to 250.8 cases, and 70 to 74-year-olds where cases surged 131 per cent from 236.6 to 486.

For 85 to 89-year-olds, cases are up 128 per cent in seven days, from 99.8 to 253, for the over-90s they are up 106 per cent, from 143.4 to 295.4, and among 65 to 69-year-olds they are up 103 per cent, from 236.6 to 486.

Have you REALLY hit your booster jab target, Boris?

Millions of eligible people in England have not had their Covid booster dose, official figures show – despite the Prime Minister insisting No10’s third dose target has been met.

Boris Johnson today bragged that the Government had achieved its goal of offering a top-up vaccine to all adults by the New Year. 

But vaccination figures show 9.5million people who were double-jabbed by the end of September – and therefore now eligible for their third dose – have yet to get their booster. 

Mr Johnson told the nation in a televised broadcast earlier this month that all eligible adults in England ‘will have the chance to get their booster before the New Year’.

No10 and the NHS subsequently clarified their goal was to invite eligible Britons for a vaccine before the end of the year, rather than deliver those doses. 

But cases are rising in every group except 10 to 14-year-olds. Scientists say this group has high levels of immunity because of previously high infection rates.

The surging infections in older age groups raise questions as to whether the NHS could soon be faced by an influx of admissions from older age groups.

Latest data for hospitals in England shows there were more than 2,000 admissions on December 28, the latest available, the highest number since early February.

Ministers have turbo-charged their booster drive and prioritised older groups in a bid to keep Omicron at bay, with scientists saying the jabs will provide an extra layer of protection.

Boris Johnson said earlier this week that 90 per cent of Covid patients in intensive care had not got their booster jabs, but no figures have been published to back this up. 

The Government publishes daily figures on Omicron hospitalisations, but this is only broken down by whether people admitted have or have not received a Covid jab. 

Officia figures show some 33million Britons have now got their booster jabs, or 58 per cent of the population.

Among over-65s 9.5million out of 10.7million have got their booster jabs.

Mr Hopson told The Times: ‘Although the numbers are going up and going up increasingly rapidly, the absence of large numbers of seriously ill older people is providing significant reassurance. But they are aware that this may change after the Christmas period.

‘Trust CEOs know that the government has a high threshold to cross before it will introduce extra restrictions and can see why, in the absence of that surge of severely ill older people, that threshold hasn’t been crossed yet.’

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