The number of coronaviorus cases across the UK has risen by more than 40,000 for the first time with 485 of the positive tests in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
A staggering 41,385 new Covid-19 cases and 357 deaths were confirmed nationwide in the latest 24-hour update.
The previous highest daily infection rate occurred on December 22 when the UK recorded 36,804 new cases.
Latest Public Health England figures show there have been 382 confirmed cases in the county in the last 24 hours.
There were 103 cases confirmed in Stoke-on-Trent, but it is too early to see whether the Government’s decision to allow up to three families to mix indoors on Christmas Day has had any impact on infection rates.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been a total of 12,458 confirmed cases in Stoke-on-Trent, 33,340 in Staffordshire and 11,514 in Cheshire East.
The news comes as grim projections show hospitals in the UK could be treating up to 20,000 coronavirus patients by New Year’s Eve.
According to the Health Service Journal the estimated number of Covid patients in hospital is increasing by around 250 every day.
The publication has warned that on December 31, NHS England could be treating more people with Covid-19 than it did at the peak of the first coronavirus wave – when 18,974 patients were in hospital on April 12.
Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said it is becoming increasingly difficult for doctors to manage coronavirus patients on hospital wards.
She issued a plea for people to follow the current restrictions, particularly at New Year’s – when some may be tempted to meet their friends or family.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has not ruled out the whole of England being moved into Tier 4 to tackle the increase in infections.
The Government is due to review the tier system on December 30 and Mr Gove told the BBC on Monday morning: “We review which tiers parts of the country should be in on the basis of scientific evidence.
“The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) will be making a recommendation to ministers, but I can’t pre-empt that because it obviously has to be a judgment based on the medical situation.
“As you quite rightly point out, the NHS is under pressure and these are difficult months ahead.”
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Meanwhile, fears are growing that the Midlands and the North could be hit even worse than London and the South East by the mutant strain of coronavirus.
Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “Outside of London, the worry at the moment is that all of the same issues are occurring but from a worse ‘starting point’ as the Midlands/North never really exited the second wave.
“Staff illness is also a major concern now, with suggestions 10% are already affected but that is likely to worsen.”
He added the rising number of coronavirus patients in hospital is “extremely worrying”.
Here are the confirmed Covid-19 cases by area as of December 28:
- Stoke-on-Trent: 12,458 (up 103 from yesterday)
- Newcastle borough: 5,496 (up 45 from yesterday)
- Staffordshire Moorlands : 3,483 (up 31 from yesterday)
- Stafford borough: 5,143 (up 46 from yesterday)
Staffordshire county (all boroughs/districts – excluding Stoke-on-Trent): 33,340 (up 382 from yesterday)
- Cheshire East: 11,514 (up 156 from yesterday)