India reports more than 22,000 infections in 24 hours
India reported 22,775 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, health ministry data shows, adding to concerns for authorities around the country about the rising number of cases.
The data indicates that thickly populated metros, such as the national capital New Delhi, financial centre Mumbai and Kolkata in the east, are seeing some of the sharpest rises.
In the eastern state of West Bengal, infections rose to 3,450 in the last 24 hours with at least 1,950 cases reported in Kolkata, the capital. Sixteen Omicron cases have been reported in West Bengal.
Kolkata’s municipal corporation declared 17 micro containment zones in residential clusters where more than 5 infections have been reported. People living in the zones are not allowed to leave the area to try to contain the spread of the disease.
Ajoy Chakrobarty, the state’s director of health services, said he was holding meetings with private hospitals to ensure health facilities are ready to deal with the rising number of cases.
Limits on freedom in the UK ‘last resort’, health secretary says
Restrictions on freedom “must be an absolute last resort” and the UK must “live alongside” coronavirus in 2022, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, has said.
But Javid added the record-breaking Omicron wave of infection will “test the limits of finite NHS capacity even more than a typical winter” as reports suggested a work from home order in England could be in place for most of January to slow the spread of the highly transmissible variant.
Government figures showed a further 189,846 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases had been recorded in the UK on Friday, another new record for daily reported cases. A leading statistician said the actual number of daily cases could be closer to half a million, with the UK going into the new year in the midst of an “unprecedented wave” of infections.
Javid, writing in the Daily Mail, said England had “welcomed in 2022 with some of the least restrictive measures in Europe”, with the UK government at odds with the devolved nations in choosing to keep nightclubs open and to allow hospitality to operate without further measures for new year celebrations.
“Curbs on our freedom must be an absolute last resort and the British people rightly expect us to do everything in our power to avert them,” the health secretary continued.
“Since I came into this role six months ago, I’ve also been acutely conscious of the enormous health, social and economic costs of lockdowns.
“So I’ve been determined that we must give ourselves the best chance of living alongside the virus and avoiding strict measures in the future.”
The cabinet minister said the time lag between infections and hospital admissions meant it was “inevitable that we will still see a big increase” in Covid patients over the next month as he warned that, as the coronavirus crisis entered its third year, the pandemic is “still far from over”.