Highest ever Covid cases in England as 162,572 people test positive and 154 die but 80% in hospital haven't had booster

DAILY Covid cases are at a record high for the fifth day in a row.

England alone reported 162,572 fresh infections in the latest 24-hour period, as well as 154 virus deaths.

Today's case total is up from the 160,276 recorded in the country yesterday and the 146,604 the day before.

And it is only marginally below the UK-wide total of 189,846 infections on New Year's Eve – the highest for all four nations since the start of the pandemic.

The government usually releases daily figures for the UK as a whole, but no data for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was released today due to the Bank Holiday.

The UK has reported record numbers of cases over the festive period as demand for both PCRs and lateral flows soars.

The rapid spread is largely down to the new variant Omicron, but a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

Four out of five patients in hospital with Omicron have not had a booster jab to protect against Covid, and a quarter are completely unvaccinated.

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The latest data brings the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the UK since the pandemic began to 13,100,458.

And a total of 148,778 people have lost their lives within 28 days of a positive test.

Despite rising cases, England has so far managed to dodge lockdown restrictions – unlike Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And the Health Secretary has said further measures are an "absolute last resort" as Brits will have to learn to "live alongside" the virus in 2022.

The next update on England's fate is due on Wednesday – but Boris Johnson is not expected to impose further restrictions.

Whitehall sources say the PM is set to "maintain the status quo" of indoor mask-wearing, working from home advice and vaccine passports on Wednesday.

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