UK records 70,924 new Covid cases and 88 deaths

Figures for Scotland are delayed and have not been included in Sunday’s total

Laurie Churchman
Sunday 16 January 2022 18:43
<p>Vaccinators prepare to give booster jabs</p>

Vaccinators prepare to give booster jabs

More than 70,000 new Covid cases have been reported in the UK with 88 further deaths.

The data, which does not include Scotland’s figures due to a technical fault, show 70,924 new infections in the last 24 hours.

Last Sunday, 141,472 new cases and 246 deaths were reported across all four nations.

The Scottish government said the technical fault is under investigation, adding: “1,562 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19, which is six more than the day before.”

On Saturday, public health expert Jillian Evans said a recent slowdown in Covid cases gave “cause for optimism”. But she warned the NHS was “not out of the woods yet”.

It comes amid reports the government’s plan B measures could be scrapped in ten days’ time.

This would mean from 26 January, people would no longer be required to work from home, and Covid passports would no longer be compulsory for large gatherings and nightclubs.

Today, the co-chair of the Conservative party Oliver Dowden said the “signs are encouraging” – adding the government would review further data this week before making a decision.

Mr Dowden told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: “It has always been my hope that we would have the plan B restrictions for the shortest period possible.

“I’m under no doubt the kind of burdens this puts hospitality, wider business, schools and so on under, and I want us to get rid of those if we possibly can. The signs are encouraging but, clearly, we will wait to see the data ahead of that final decision.”

Mr Dowden also said there has been “some very promising data” on infections and hospital admissions from the Omicron variant.

He said: “That gives us pause for hope and optimism that we may be emerging from the worst of Omicron”.

Yesterday a government health adviser said coronavirus cases appear to be “plateauing” in parts of the UK.

Dr Susan Hopkins, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) chief medical adviser, said that London, the South East and East of England were seeing the number of infections flatten.

It’s thought Boris Johnson could make an announcement on easing restrictions within days as part of a blitz of new policies as he tries to survive the publication of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into alleged lockdown-busting parties at Downing Street.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he hoped the rules could be lifted “as soon as possible”, but warned the prime minister not to make the move just to distract from so-called “partygate”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Mr Starmer said: “I think the sooner we can lift the final restrictions, the better. I think that’s what the whole country want.

“So, if it’s the right thing to lift those restrictions, we will vote to lift [them]. But we’ll be led by the science as we always have been, not by the politics of propping up a broken prime minister.”

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