Covid: These are the countries which have reported record daily rises in cases since Christmas

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of coronavirus walk in downtown Lisbon. Credit: AP

In recent days, the US and countries across Europe have reported record daily increases in Covid cases, as the highly infectious Omicron variant continues to rapidly spread amongst populations.

In order to halt the spread of the new strain, stringent curbs on social mixing have been introduced across much of continental Europe and booster rollouts ramped up.

But the recent jump in infections is likely to fuel calls for further intervention in countries where current curbs have been criticised by scientists as too lax.

So, what are some of the countries which have reported new daily case records and how big were their totals?


On Wednesday, the UK recorded its highest ever number of confirmed daily Covid-19 cases as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the country with more than 90% of cases in England of the strain.

A further 183,037 lab-confirmed cases were recorded in the UK, the government said, breaking the previous record set just the day before of 129,471 cases.

But despite the soaring figures, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there will be no new restrictions before the new year in England, in contrast to tighter curbs in place for the devolved administrations.

With just days to go until New Year's Eve and millions of people across the UK expected to attend parties, the PM urged people to celebrate in a "cautious and sensible way".Boris Johnson also defended the government's decision to not impose any extra Covid restrictions in England, a decision at odds with the leaders of the devolved nations who have all introduced tougher rules on social mixing as a result of soaring coronavirus cases due to the rapid spread of Omicron.


On Monday, the US recorded 512,553 daily new cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

This figure is the single highest number of cases recorded since the start of the pandemic, beating the previous record of 294,015, which was set on January 8, 2021.

California on Tuesday became the first US state to top 5 million cases since the start of the pandemic, followed by Texas with more than 4.4 million and Florida topping 3.9 million as of Sunday.

The surge could be partly explained by the fact that many testing centres were likely closed over the Christmas weekend, so some test results would have been recorded on Monday and Tuesday instead.

California has now surpassed 5 million cases in total Credit: AP

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said US media report the seven-day average rise in Covid infections is also at its highest level since January 2021.

More than 265,000 cases per day on average are being recorded - a surge driven largely by the highly contagious omicron variant.

The previous mark was 250,000 cases per day, set in mid-January, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Ahead of Christmas, US President Joe Biden decided against imposing curbs on domestic flights, meaning Americans could travel to spend the festive period with their families.

While there is no national lockdown, state, county and city officials have rolled out varying orders and guidance, including restrictions on social distancing and mask mandates.

Meanwhile on Monday, the CDC announced asymptomatic Americans who test positive for Covid-19 will have their self-isolation period cut from 10 to five days.

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France also reported its highest ever number of daily cases with 208,000 confirmed on Wednesday - shattering the previous highest daily number of 179,807 on Tuesday.

It means that more than two French people are testing positive every second, said Health Minister Olivier Veran, who warned that 70% of those hospitalised in intensive care in Paris public hospitals aren’t vaccinated.

Forecasts have warned of more than 250,000 daily infections likely by January.

In order to prevent cases reaching these levels, the country is tightening restrictions from January 3.

Covid passports and face masks are required for all indoor venues, with large events to be limited to 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 people outdoors.

As the Omicron variant fuels the surge in infections, the French government is also forging ahead with efforts to increase pressure on unvaccinated people to get coronavirus jabs.

At a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Veran defended the government plan to allow only the fully vaccinated to enjoy continued access to places such as restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, and sports arenas.

Speaking to those not vaccinated, he said: “There is really little chance that this time you can escape (Covid) - the virus is spreading too fast.”


People line up outside a pharmacy for Covid swab tests in Milan, Italy. Credit: AP

Italy’s Health Ministry reported record-breaking numbers of Covid cases for the second day in a row with 98,030 new cases on Wednesday - a 25% increase on Tuesday's figure of 78,300 cases.

Officials say 71% of those hospitalised are not vaccinated.

Last week, the country announced a tightening of its coronavirus restrictions, focussing on the unvaccinated and on New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Under the new rules, people who have not been vaccinated will be barred from entering museums, exhibitions, amusement parks, bingo parlours and betting halls - places that until now they could access with a negative test.

The new regulations have been gradually implemented since Friday.

The government was meeting later on Wednesday to consider reducing the quarantine for vaccinated people, amid forecasts that the increasing number of infections could place more than 2 million in quarantine after close contact with positive cases.


Portugal reported a record 17,172 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, breaking the previous high of 16,432 cases recorded in January.

In Portugal, bars and nightclubs were forced to close from Christmas Day and working from home will be mandatory until at least January 9.

Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people on New Year's Eve, when a negative test will be needed to enter indoor venues or parties.

There will also be capacity restrictions in shops and a negative test will be required for hotels and events.

A man walks past an empty kiosk terrace decorated with Christmas lights in Lisbon. Credit: AP


On Wednesday, Poland recorded 794 Covid-related deaths, the highest number in its fourth wave of the pandemic.

More than three-quarters of the victims were reported to have been unvaccinated.

Under rules that came in earlier this month, discos and nightclubs have been closed - except for limited activity for up to 100 people for New Year’s celebrations.

The curbs also cut the limit of unvaccinated people in restaurants, hotels, theatres, cinemas, churches and sports facilities to 30% of capacity from 50%.


Greece reported record-breaking numbers of Covid cases for the second day in a row, with 28,828 on Wednesday - up from 21,657 cases on Tuesday, and more than double the previous record of 9,284 on Monday.

The country's health minister said on Wednesday that music will be banned at all commercial venues for New Year’s celebrations as part of new restrictions announced.

Entertainment venues will close at midnight starting on Thursday, but they will be allowed to stay open until 2am for New Year’s Eve.

It came after Christmas concerts were cancelled last week amid fears the country's health service could be overwhelmed if social mixing was not restricted over the festive period.

Other restrictions - including a general mask mandate for outdoors and all public areas - also came into effect last Friday.

People read the front pages of Greek newspapers at Omonia square in Athens. Credit: AP


Cyprus recorded its highest single-day number of cases on Tuesday, with 2,241 infections, an increase from 1,925 the previous day.

In Cypus, the use of a face mask is compulsory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces for everyone aged six and over.

People aged six and over require a 'SafePass' to enter venues including malls, catering establishments and some sports facilities.