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UK records 26,911 new cases and 158 further deaths – with 8,339 patients in hospital

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The UK has recorded another 158 coronavirus deaths and a further 26,911 cases, with the number of COVID patients in hospital now at 8,339.

The total number of people in hospital with coronavirus in the UK has been over the 8,000 mark for nine of the past 10 days.

Before that, the last time the figure surpassed the 8,000 mark was in early March.

On this day last year there were 1,106 COVID patients in hospital across the UK.

The number of patients in mechanical ventilation beds currently stands at 1,081 – the figure has been over 1,000 every day since the last day of August. Before this, the last time the number was as high was in mid-March.

More on Covid-19

The latest cases and deaths figures compare with the 30,597 infections and 201 fatalities confirmed yesterday.

Meanwhile, another 23,003 people had their first coronavirus vaccine dose, taking the total to 48,503,181.

A further 59,404 people had their second dose, taking the total of fully vaccinated people in the UK to 44,229,777.

The figures come as the NHS started rolling out COVID-19 booster jabs.

Over 50s, people in care homes, frontline health and social care workers and vulnerable people between 16 and 49 are among those who will be offered a third dose.

At least six months must have passed since the second jab.

The number of COVID patients in hospital has remained above 8,000 after the health secretary told Sky News pressures on A&E and increasing hospital admissions could trigger the government’s “Plan B” for tackling COVID.

Sajid Javid made the comments as he refused to rule out another lockdown.

The health secretary defended not bringing in more stringent measures now, as set out in the government’s winter plan for tackling the virus, saying vaccines, boosters and new treatments offer “a very strong” package of tools at present.

He denied the UK is in the same position as this time last year, saying the “big, big difference” is that vaccines are offering a strong line of defence against COVID-19.

Concerns around the number of hospital admissions in the UK come as the military could be called in to help Scotland’s ambulance service which is facing “acute pressure”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised “unreservedly” for long waiting times and confirmed that targeted military assistance to help deal with “short-term pressure points” is under consideration.

Northern Ireland has asked for the Ministry of Defence to provide 100 armed forces medics to support Belfast City Hospital and Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

The medics would be needed to help the hospitals deal with the number of COVID patients they are treating.