The number of UK daily Covid cases has reached another record high.
The government said lab-confirmed coronavirus cases were 189,213 as of 9am on Thursday, and a further 332 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid. The figure includes a backlog of hospital deaths reported by NHS England covering the period of December 24-29.
On Wednesday, 183,037 infections were reported – the previous high.
It comes as the Welsh government has come to the aid of Westminster by loaning England four million lateral flow tests, as ministers scramble to secure supplies from around the world.
There has been a surge in demand for Covid-19 tests as people try to comply with advice to limit the spread of the Omicron variant by ensuring they do not have coronavirus before socialising.
But by 9am on Thursday, home delivery slots for lateral flow tests were unavailable on the Gov.uk website.
Pharmacies have also complained about patchy supplies of lateral flow kits.
New NHS England figures show 11,452 people were in hospital in England with Covid-19 as of 8am on Thursday, up 61% from a week earlier and the highest number since February 26.
The data also shows there were 2,082 Covid-19 hospital admissions in England on Tuesday. This is up 90% week-on-week and is the highest number since February 3.
The Welsh Government has agreed to loan four million more tests to the NHS in England, bringing the total the country has given England to 10 million.
First minister Mark Drakeford said: “Wales has a significant stock of lateral flow tests, sufficient to meet our needs over the weeks ahead.”
In a letter to MPs, health secretary Sajid Javid said the supply of lateral flow devices (LFDs) was being tripled in January and February from a pre-Omicron plan of 100 million to 300 million per month.
“To respond to anticipated demand over the coming few weeks we are buying hundreds of millions more LFD tests, bringing new products on board and accelerating their deployment to the public,” he said.
But “in light of the huge demand for LFDs seen over the last three weeks, we expect to need to constrain the system at certain points over the next two weeks to manage supply over the course of each day, with new tranches of supply released regularly throughout each day”.
Prime minister Boris Johnson previously urged people in England heading out for New Year’s Eve festivities on Friday to get tested.
In England – unlike other parts of the UK – nightclubs remain open and there are no limits on social mixing.
The NHS Covid Pass is required for entry to nightclubs but this can be obtained by people who are double-jabbed, rather than requiring proof of a negative test.
The UK Health Security Agency said on Wednesday that eight million lateral flow test kits would be made available to pharmacies by New Year’s Eve.
It comes as the NHS is setting up new Nightingale “surge hubs” at hospitals across England as it goes on a “war footing” to prepare for a potential wave of Omicron hospital admissions.
Work on a total of eight hubs, each with a capacity of around 100 patients, is set to begin as early as this week, according to NHS England.
Further sites could also be identified to add a further 4,000 “super surge” beds.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.