Further 137,585 new Covid cases and 73 deaths recorded in England and Wales

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

England and Wales have reported 137,585 new Covid cases and 73 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, government data shows.

It compares with the 162,572 cases reported in England on Saturday.

It brings the total number of cases over the past seven days to 1,110,159 – a 43.1 per cent increase on the week prior.

Figures from Scotland and Northern Ireland are going to be updated after the bank holiday weekend.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 174,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

A total of 51,771,547 first doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been delivered in the UK by January 1, Government figures show.

This is a rise of 71 on the previous day but only Northern Ireland has reported new statistics. England, Scotland and Wales have yet to update their figures.

Some 47,412,410 second doses have been delivered, an increase of 68, all administered in Northern Ireland.

A combined total of 33,928,754 booster and third doses have also been given, a day-on-day rise of 979, also just in Northern Ireland.

Separate totals for booster and third doses are not available.

It comes as secondary school students in England will once again be asked to wear masks in classrooms in a bid to limit the threat posed by Omicron.

The Government said the move will “maximise the number of children in school” for the “maximum amount of time” in light of the recent surge in the highly-transmissible strain of the virus.

It stressed that the recommendation for both schools and colleges will be temporary, remaining in place until January 26, when Plan B regulations are scheduled to expire. At this point it will be reviewed.

An additional 7,000 air cleaning units will also be provided to schools, colleges and early years settings to improve ventilation in teaching spaces, the Department for Education said.

Secondary schools have already been told they will get a break from Ofsted in the first week of term, as they carry out on-site testing.

But the Government clarified on Sunday that, beyond this, the watchdog will encourage schools, colleges and early years settings that are “significantly impacted by Covid-related staff absence” to ask for a deferral to their inspection.

And inspectors who are also school, college or early years leaders will not be asked to carry out their Ofsted duties for the time being. The temporary measure will apply from the start of January.

Headteachers welcomed the reintroduction of masks in classrooms, saying schools and colleges would take it “in their stride”. Face coverings are already recommended in communal areas for older students and staff.

The news comes as six trade unions representing education staff across the country urged the Government to offer improved financial support to schools and colleges for the costs of supply staff to cover for Covid-related absences.

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