The United Kingdom (UK) is witnessing a record surge in COVID-19 cases, amid fears over Omicron spread. It reported 78,610 cases on 15 December, which quickly accelerated from 51,342 cases, reported just a week before, on 8 December.
This is the highest number of cases to be recorded in the UK ever since the pandemic broke out, topping the previous high of 68,053 cases on 8 January 2021.
The government has issued strict guidelines for vaccinations and travel amid the surge. Here's all you need to know.
What is the death toll?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the first death due to Omicron in the UK on Monday. Following this, a total of 165 deaths in the 28 days were reported in the UK. However, daily deaths remain stable and no rising trends have been identified so far, according to the BBC.
Of the total 165 deaths in the past 28 days, England recorded the highest with 129 deaths, followed by Scotland with 22, Wales with 10, and Northern Ireland with four.
The seven-day average death toll in UK till 15 December is 115.
How many hospitalised?
Even though the death toll remains fairly stable, the rate of hospitalisation is rising.
The total number of patients hospitalised due to COVID-19 in the UK has risen to 7,673 from what was 7,365 a week before. However, even though the rate of hospitalisation is rising, it still remains far behind the earlier hospitalisation record of 40,000 people, back in January.
How is the vaccine rollout in the UK?
More than 51 million people who constitute 89 percent of the population aged 12 years or more, have been inoculated with at least one dose of any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in the UK. Almost 49 million people, contributing to 82 percent of the population aged 12 years or more, have been inoculated with a second dose of any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in the UK.
The country has started administering booster doses to everyone above the age of 18.
What are the different restrictions?
People must show their COVID-19 negative reports (produced within the last 48 hours) before joining nightclubs or similar public gatherings.
Face masks are mandatory in any public venue.
Once in contact with someone infected with COVID-19, the person must take rapid lateral flow tests every week, and on testing positive, the person must isolate themselves for 10 days.
People aged 18 years or above are to pre-book a booster dose (Pfizer/Moderna) appointment two months after their second dose and can take the booster after three months from the same.
People aged 16 years or above with severe health condition and immunodeficiency can also avail the booster doses.
Guidelines have been issued to reduce social contact by meeting in groups of not more than three households. People aged 12 years to 17 years are to book a vaccination appointment or visit clinics to get their vaccines of Pfizer. Additionally, people aged 40 years to 49 years are also urged to get their booster doses (Pfizer/Moderna) six months after the second dose.
People aged 16 and 17 are to get their second vaccine after 12 weeks of their first dose while people aged 12 to 15 are to contact their respective health boards if they have not yet been inoculated with a first dose. People aged 40 to 49 are to be invited by their health board when it is their turn for the booster doses (Pfizer/Moderna).
What are the guidelines on international travel?
England: Even through England still complies with the prior international travel guidelines issued, it has removed all the 11 countries from the “red list.” This is because community transmission has begun in England.
Rest of UK: Anyone travelling to Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland must produce their negative lateral flow or PCR test results, no more than 48 hours prior. After travelling to Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland, one must take a PCR test within two days and must self-isolate until the test results come out negative. However, in the case of Northern Ireland, if anyone is not completely vaccinated, one must be under self-isolation for 10 days and must take another PCR test on Day 8.