Latest UK Covid news LIVE: ‘No sign there will be an increase in Omicron deaths’, says top statistician

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The UK is unlikely to experience a significant spike in serious illness and death from the Omicron variant, a senior statistician has said.

Sir David Spiegelhalter of the University of Cambridge said data from the BBC in London suggests hospitalizations are stabilizing and may even decline, although admissions are increasing in other parts of the country.

He said: “There are still no signs of a serious increase in intensive care ventilation and deaths, and we would have expected to see it now.”

Live updates

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Covid absences of NHS staff double in one week in some areas, data shows

Absences of NHS hospital staff due to Covid have more than doubled in one week in the North East and Yorkshire, new figures show.

A total of 8,788 NHS staff in hospital trusts across the region were sick with the coronavirus or had to self-isolate on January 2, up 110% from the 4,179 reported on Boxing Day.

New figures from NHS England, released on Friday, also show that the absences of Covid hospital staff in the North West increased 85% week-on-week, from 3,966 to 7,338, while in the Midlands they rose 65% to 7,931 from 4,812.

Absences of Covid staff in acute trusts rose 58% week-over-week in the South West, 42% in the South East and 40% in the East of England.

But the smallest increase was in London, where the Omicron variant began to increase, with hospital staff absences due to Covid increasing 4% from 4,580 on Boxing Day to 4,765 on January 2.

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Weekly Covid deaths revised up to 261 after coding error – ONS

The number of weekly coronavirus deaths recorded in England and Wales has been revised upwards by more than 250 after a coding error, statisticians say.

Some 261 deaths recorded in the week to December 24 were not mistakenly recorded as having involved Covid-19, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This brings the total number of deaths recorded that week, when Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, to 852, from 591.

The ONS said a problem with its automated coding system meant the causes and contributing factors of some deaths were coded late.

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International travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, vacation boss says

Demand for overseas vacations is picking up to pre-pandemic levels following the relaxation of coronavirus travel rules, travel agencies say.

Steve Heapy, general manager of tour operator Jet2holidays and leisure airline Jet2.com, said bookings skyrocketed after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that testing and quarantine requirements for arrivals would be relaxed.

Bookings to popular holiday destinations such as Majorca have risen since PM’s announcement

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Bookings to popular holiday destinations such as Mallorca have increased since the Prime Minister’s announcement

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His company has reported enormous popularity for travel to mainland Spain, the Canaries, the Balearic Islands, Turkey and Greece.

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James Corden tested positive for COVID

James Corden has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Late Late Show host said on Instagram that he felt “completely good” – but added that the show would be suspended for several days.

“I just tested positive for covid 19,” he wrote.

“I am completely vaccinated, boosted and because of that, I have the chance to say that I feel perfectly well.

“Stay safe everyone. All my love, James x”

Corden is the last American television talk show host to test positive for the coronavirus after Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon and Whoopi Goldberg.

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More than 4,700 NHS staff absent in London last week

A total of 39,142 NHS staff in hospital trusts in England were absent for Covid-19 reasons on January 2, up 59% from the previous week (24,632) and more than three times the number in early December (12,508), according to new figures from NHS England.

The total includes staff who either had the coronavirus or needed to self-isolate.

In London, absences increased 4% week-on-week, from 4,580 to 4,765.

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“People are suffering,” says BMA president

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the board of the British Medical Association (BMA), told Sky News it was important that “the government does not wait to get over this because people are suffering every day”.

He said there were a couple of things to do, adding: high levels of Omicron, over 200,000 every day last week, you will have NHS staff and other isolated staff and sick, it’s that simple.

“So infection rates need to be reduced. The second thing is that we need to make sure that those of us who work on the front lines and deal with infectious patients need to be properly protected.

“And one of the things we’re calling for are premium masks that can filter the airborne spread of Covid-19 and Omicron, as opposed to normal paper surgical masks. “

He said some NHS staff still couldn’t access the lateral flow tests needed to get them back to work after seven days of isolation instead of 10 days.

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Army remains in talks over increased NHS support in other parts of the country – Air Commodore

Air Commodore John Lyle told BBC Breakfast the military is still in discussions for additional NHS support in other parts of the country.

“We can’t really plan too far, but certainly throughout this current wave we know it’s particularly difficult in London right now, but we are aware that it is having an impact across the UK “, did he declare.

“And so we stay in discussions and there are a number of areas where we are looking at the potential for more help.

“So over the coming weeks or months I think we will learn a lot about how progress is being made in London and potentially, additional military support may be needed in other areas.”

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Encouraging signs London emerging from Omicron wave, Minister says

London will receive support from the armed forces to cope with the high absence rate of health workers, but there are “encouraging” signs that the city is emerging from the Omicron wave, according to a minister.

London Minister Paul Scully, when asked if Omicron was calming down in the capital, told LBC: “I think it sounds encouraging, the trend right now, but we clearly need to be on our guard as it there is still pressure on the NHS in London.

“It’s not just about the number of cases – there’s a clear disconnect between the number of cases and hospitalizations – but you also, due to the increase in testing and heightened awareness among people, you also have longer absences, and this obviously puts additional pressure on the NHS and other public services. “

Mr Scully said military personnel deployed to the capital would be a “mix of medics, porterage and that sort of thing” to help hospitals, but said he did not have details on the location where they would help.

He added: ‘What we also have is a digital staff passport for the NHS, which allows staff to move between hospitals, so where the pressure is most acute is where the NHS personnel will be placed, but also military personnel. “

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Army “helps in different ways” says health boss

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said staff “would help in different ways depending on whether or not they are clinically qualified, so obviously if people have medical skills then they can be used in clinical settings. “.

Others would be used to help “with regards to transport or potential set up of facilities … we are building surge capacity in some of our hospitals to deal with the number of patients arriving”.

Mr Taylor said there were several thousand NHS workers absent mainly because of Covid, and that “having two hundred more people will help but this is only a very small part of what will continue to be ‘to be a very difficult situation “.

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Minister: the armed forces “help indisputable pressure on the NHS”

The UK government does not see the need “at this time” for more restrictions on coronaviruses, although the military has been called in to support some London hospitals through the Omicron wave.

Business Secretary Paul Scully asked if further measures were ‘off the table’, told Sky News: ‘At the moment we are looking at the data, but we have seen what is happening in London, which has led the way in the case numbers curve, and we don’t see the need to do so at this time.

“We are clearly going to review our Plan B scenario before January 26, and then we will come back to Parliament with the decision that was taken at that time.”

He added, “When you talk about the armed forces around the hospitals, they’re not sitting there in fighting or anything like that.

“It’s more people helping with the unquestionable pressures on the NHS and that’s why we want people to come out, get vaccinated and get boosted, because this remains our best weapon against pressure on the NHS and against Covid , as we learn to live with Covid.

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