1325 deaths

68053 new cases of COVID

3887 new hospitalisations

31624 in hospital

I thought I could not be shocked by anything regarding COVID-19, but it turns out I was wrong. These new figures are catastrophic, worse than I could ever have imagined.

In a week, deaths are up by 44.6%. New cases are up by 29.9%. Hospitalisations are up by 35.5%. As I say, in a week. And comparisons with the peak of the first wave, back in April 2020 are bleak. There are now 50% more patients in hospital with Covid than there were at the peak of the first wave in April, and there have been 10,000 admissions since Christmas Day.

If these figures look bad – and they are very bad – wait until the effects of the New Year’s Eve parties reach the statistics. And wait until the new infections translate into deaths. It can only be a few short weeks until we record daily death numbers of more than 2000.

We’re hanging on the vaccine to save us. That, together with hard lockdowns, is the only thing that can save us. When we all said 2021 could only be better than 2020, but we can’t be sure now. There are doubts that schools might not reopen until this autumn’s term. It’s entirely possible that even if society reopens, it won’t do so fully. There will still be masks, social distancing, restrictions in numbers of people going anywhere.

The British Lions tour of South Africa? No chance. Glastonbury? Maybe 2022? The Olympic Games? Nope. I can’t even see fans being allowed back into gigs or football grounds at least until the autumn and even then only in reduced numbers.

Will summer be anything like normal? Will we be able to go on holiday? Maybe. But what about new strains of COVID? What if they negate the positive effects of vaccines? As Donald Rumsfeld so astutely put it: ‘There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.’ I think he’s onto something here.

I’m hoping to live long enough to get my first jab (next Thursday) and hope that somehow Boris Johnson’s clown car government can eventually get something right. But on this darkest of dark winter days, it got still darker. And the next few days will be the worst so far.

My view is that we should now lockdown like never before because in this lockdown, more of us are back at work, more children are back in school, more of us are using public transport and – guess what? – more of us are spreading the virus.

Government figures suggest that nearly 80,000 people have so far died from COVID-19. The real figure is probably nearer to 100,000, but even using the government counting methods, 100,000 will be reached probably in the next fortnight. Shocking figures. And shocking incompetence by the clowns at the wheel, Boris Johnson and the worst government in living memory.