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Live news: UK daily Covid infections hit record of almost 120,000

New York reported more than 28,000 new cases of Covid-19, setting a record for daily cases for the fifth time in six days.

Another 28,924 infections were reported to the state, following cases on Dec. 21, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday.

That equates to a nationwide rate of about 115 infections per 100,000, Hochul said at a news conference. “This virus goes vertical; it goes straight up,” she added.

New York’s daily caseload hit 20,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic on Dec. 16 and has since stayed above that level, according to data from the state’s health department. The latest figure surpassed the previous record of 23,391 reported on December 19.

The current rise in the number of coronavirus cases in New York and in the US has largely been caused by the new Omicron variant. About 73 percent of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. in the week ending Dec. 18 were estimated to be Omicron, according to data earlier this week from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That makes it the dominant strain in the US.

The proportion of Omicron cases is even higher than the national average in a region designated by the CDC, including New York. In the week ending Dec. 18, Omicron had cleared an estimated 92 percent of cases in the agency’s “Region 2,” consisting of New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“It’s not the number of infected people that keeps me up at night, it’s the number that end up in hospital,” Hochul said at the briefing. She pointed to decisions in recent weeks to suspend elective surgeries at state hospitals and to a requirement for nursing homes to provide access to Covid-19 booster shots as part of an effort to preemptively protect the health system and reduce the risk of it being overwhelmed .

Hochul said the number of Covid-related hospitalizations across the state “rise,” but at 4,452 it was two-thirds of where it was a year ago.

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