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Entire families who met for Christmas are being treated in hospital for the new strain of coronavirus, an NHS consultant has warned.
Professor of Infectious Diseases, Martin Llewelyn, has pleaded with the nation to follow the rules and not go out this New Year's Eve, as the "staggering" impact of mingling on December 25 is becoming clear.
More teenagers and young people have been admitted into hospital with the new variant of the virus than ever before bringing the number of Covid hospital patients up to 21,000, he said.
The President of British Infection Association tweeted: "Back on the wards today. Staggering amount of Covid.
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"Striking difference from last time – large family outbreaks with teenagers/young adults the focus. Multiple family members being admitted.
"Not looking forward to next two weeks. Please follow the rules this New Year's Eve."
Another medical professional, Dr Katie Sanderson, says it is "becoming unmanageable".
Dr Sanderson told Sky News: "People feel it's worse than the first time around.
"It's really frightening – because things are better organised and less chaotic it's clear the volume of patients is becoming unmanageable.
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"The fear is that that's before we even are seeing people with infections contracted from Christmas.
"The next couple of weeks are going to be incredibly difficult and people are frightened they won't be able to look after people as well as they could."
Scientists have identified the new strain as being 56% more infectious than the virus that forced the first lockdown measures in spring.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine report there is "some evidence that the increase may be particularly marked in children".
Boris Johnson will review England's four-tier system on Wednesday, with more areas expected to join 43% of the population in Tier 4 and pressure mounting to stop schools opening for the new term.
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Current plans allow only primary school kids and Years eleven and 13 to head back into the classroom on January 4, but Union bosses want all children to stay home for two weeks.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: "We're still planning for a staggered opening of schools and we are working to ensure testing is in place.
"As we have said throughout the pandemic, we obviously keep all measures under constant review."
- Boris Johnson
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