UK's Covid deaths jump by 150 as daily cases hit 59,610 and Boris warns of 'huge Omicron spike' to come

THE UK has seen another 150 Covid deaths added to the tragic toll of virus victims today.

It comes as another 59,610 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, the highest daily rise since January.

Boris Johnson warned his ministers earlier today he believes a "huge spike" of cases of the variant will hit the nation.

Today Brits scrambled to get walk-in test slots, and lateral flow kits ran out for the second day running.

People have been urged to come forward and get their booster jabs as soon as possible to protect everyone from picking up the new variant.

The UK Health Security Agency said: "There has been high demand for PCR test appointments leading to temporary reduced availability in some areas.

"More appointments are made available each afternoon & PCR tests are available to order for home delivery.

"Testing is playing an integral role in keeping people safe and managing the virus.

"We’re grateful to everyone that’s getting tested to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities, and everyone who needs a PCR test should continue to come forward."

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It comes after warnings to Cabinet ministers hospitals could be so overwhelmed with Omicron by the middle of January some could be forced to SHUT.

Ministers were given a bombshell warning this morning that so many of Britain's army of NHS doctors and nurses will be off sick by around January 15, The Sun understands.

The PM and Government medics told virtual cabinet this morning that even on “the most conservative” estimates things are looking “very bad” when it comes to cases.

Over the weekend NHS England moved to the highest alert level after Omicron cases in the UK skyrocketed.

The decision to move from level 3 to level 4 was made on Sunday after health chiefs indicated that there was substantial pressure on the NHS.

The alert was raised to level four meaning that there is a real threat that the rise in infections could force the closure of other vital health services.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the growth of Omicron cases in the UK is "now mirroring the rapid increase we're seeing in South Africa", telling MPs: "The current observed doubling time is around every two days.

"Although yesterday we reported there were 4,713 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK, the UKHSA estimates that the number of daily infections was 42 times higher, at 200,000.

"Scientists have never seen a Covid-19 variant that's capable of spreading so rapidly so we have to look at what we can do to slow Omicron's advance."

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Downing Street gave its backing to the UK Health Security Agency estimate that there could already be around 200,000 cases of the rapidly-spreading strain in circulation.

"We think it is a valid figure which is recognising it is an estimate and models have wide ranges," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

"It does provide an understanding of how quickly Omicron is transmitting, we expect it to become the dominant variant in London today."

The spokesman did not reject a suggestion that by the middle of next week there could be a million Omicron infections a day, instead saying: "Like I say, cases are increasing significantly."

However, despite the figures, he insisted there are "no plans" to move beyond Plan B restrictions, which are expected to be backed in Tuesday's Commons vote with Labour's support.

But Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged people across Scotland to limit their mixing by socialising with only up to two other households indoors either side of Christmas.

And the downbeat assessment from Prof Whitty delivered to the first Cabinet meeting not to take place in person for months will raise concerns that additional measures may be needed in England in the new year.

He told ministers he can not yet determine whether cases are plateauing in South Africa, where the strain was first identified, and said there is "no reliable evidence" from the nation's scientists of a peak in case rates.

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