In England and Wales there were 137,583 confirmed cases over the past 24 hours, marking a second day of declining numbers since New Year’s Eve
There were 137,583 new cases of Covid reported in England and Wales over the past 24 hours, down around 25,000 cases on the day before, according to data from NHS England.
This marks the second day of decline from a New Year’s Eve peak of around 190,000 cases across the UK.
England and Wales also reported 73 deaths within 28 days of a Covid test today.
This was nearly half of the 154 reported in England alone on Saturday.
The government said data for Scotland and Northern Ireland would be updated after the New Year holiday.
This was the second day in a row that cases had dropped, but the impact of socialising over Christmas and New Year, and the return of schools, is yet to be felt by the nation.
This comes as masks are set to make a return to classrooms this month as pupils head back to school.
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Face coverings were already recommended in communal areas for older students and staff as well, but now will be worn in classrooms in all of England’s secondary schools.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said face coverings would be required until 26 January.
This is when the current national Plan B Covid measures end, but they will be reviewed in early January.
The new government announcement comes during what health bosses warn are a “crucial” few next days in the fight against Omicron.
To help schools prevent the spread of the deadly virus, the government is supplying 7,000 new air purifiers to schools where ventilation is difficult.
But the NEU teaching union joint general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, branded the plans “completely inadequate” PA reports.
She said, with “over 300,000 classrooms in England they (the government) have failed to provide an effective solution”.
Education committee chairman Robert Halfon said mask-wearing would have a “significant impact on children’s wellbeing”.
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In comments in the Sunday Telegraph, the Tory MP said: “The government needs to supply the evidence.
“If masks are not required in offices or restaurants, why are we getting young kids to put them on?”
The trouble comes as pupils across the UK are heading back to school after a festive break which saw the UK repeatedly smash its record for daily Covid cases.
Until the announcement, England were the only of the four UK nations where face masks were not recommended for pupils in classrooms.
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Across the festive period, the UK repeatedly saw Covid cases spike to record levels, peaking around 190,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours.
Hospitalisations similarly rose across the month of December, rising above 1,000 new people in hospital a day once more.
Deaths have not trended upwards over the past month, but in recent days do seem to be on the rise.
The last Saturday of December recorded only 10 deaths, but one week later 154 people died over 24 hours.