England reports 162,572 new COVID-19 cases, another record

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Watch: 'Data does not support more restrictions in England this week'

LONDON (Reuters) - England reported a record high daily total of 162,572 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, up from 160,276 the previous day, official data showed. 

  The daily update also showed 154 new deaths from the virus in England within 28 days of a positive test, down from 178 on Friday. 

  The data normally also includes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but did not on Saturday because of differences in reporting schedules over the New Year weekend. 

  The daily number of confirmed infections across the United Kingdom repeatedly broke records in December as the Omicron variant spread rapidly. However, hospitalisations and deaths have remained at lower levels than during previous waves. 

  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all introduced restrictions such as nightclub closures, social distancing rules in pubs and limits on the number of people allowed to gather. 

  But England, which accounts for more than 80% of the UK population, has not brought in any restrictions. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said any new curbs would only be introduced as an "absolute last resort". 

  (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Gareth Jones) 

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