There will be more people in hospital on Christmas Day with COVID-19 than at any point during the pandemic so far.
The latest figures show there are currently 20,917 in hospitals in the UK with COVID-19.
The most recent 7-day average for people admitted per day is 1,943 meaning, if current trends continue, then Christmas Day will beat the previous grim peak of 21,683 patients in hospital with COVID-19 12 April.
The bleak figures are a further indication that the pandemic will not slow down for Christmas or anything else.
The government has been forced to roll back on its planned relaxation of rules over Christmas in recent days as infections got out of control.
Originally, the plan was to allow five days of mixing between up to three households over the Christmas period, this has now been cut down to just Christmas day and two households, with tighter rules elsewhere.
Watch: Millions more to enter Tier 4 on Boxing Day
The new variant of the virus which is believed to be up to 70% more infectious than the normal strain forced the government to put London and parts of the South East and the East of England under Tier 4 on Sunday.
The Tier 4 measures are equivalent to the lockdown England experienced in November, with all non-essential businesses closed.
It also meant people would not be allowed to mix with other households over Christmas or leave their Tier 4 area.
There are 20,917 ppl currently in hospital with #COVID19. By tmrw, Christmas Day, there will be more covid patients in hospital than at any point in the pandemic. 😔That’s why I am so angry that Johnson’s govt are going to wait until Boxing Day before they save more lives #tier4
— Dr Zubaida Haque (@Zubhaque) December 24, 2020
Millions more people are set to join London and parts of the South East and East of England in Tier 4 on Boxing Day, meaning more than 40% of England’s population will be under Tier 4.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the UK’s variant coronavirus was spreading at a “dangerous rate” as he announced the measures, which include tough restrictions on mixing with people and the closure of non-essential shops.
Areas moving to Tier 4 from Boxing Day are: Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, those parts of Essex not yet in Tier 4, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire – including Portsmouth and Southampton but with the exception of the New Forest.
Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset including the North Somerset council area, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire as well as Cheshire and Warrington will all be escalated to Tier 3.
Cornwall and Herefordshire will move from Tier 1 into Tier 2.
On top the new variant spreading in the UK, which is believed to have originated in Kent in September, Hancock warned another variant of the disease had been detected in South Africa with two cases already confirmed in England.
Hancock warned the “highly concerning” new variant is believed to be more transmissible than the mutant strain that resulted in the creation of the new Tier 4 restrictions.
It is believed to be behind an increase in cases in South Africa, and has been discovered in two people in the UK thought to be contacts of those who travelled between the two countries in the last few weeks.
At a Downing Street press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Hancock said: “This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant discovered in the UK.
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