A record number of new cases was reported on Wednesday, breaking the previous high set the day before
Covid cases have continued to surge across the UK with over 183,000 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours.
The figures released by the government on Wednesday afternoon set a new record for the pandemic, breaking the one set yesterday by over 50,000.
The numbers include several days worth of figures from Northern Ireland, which were backlogged over the holiday – but still set a record without them.
The government said a further 57 people have died within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the rolling seven-day total to 516.
Boris Johnson warned this morning that the more infectious Omicron variant was causing significant problems, but has so far resisted imposing new social distancing measures ahead of New Year.
The variant is thought by scientists to be milder than previous incarnations of the virus, but it is not clear exactly to what extent – or how many of the record number of people being infected will end up in hospital or dying.
Ministers are focusing on their Covid booster programme, which they hope will head off the surge and prevent deaths and serious illness. Mr Johnson said this morning that in some wards as many as 90 per cent of people in intensive care were unvaccinated.
No new restrictions were imposed over the Christmas period, with people free to see their families but the government urging caution.
NHS England separately reported on Wednesday afternoon that there were 1,751 Covid-19 hospital admissions in England on December 27 – up 65 per cent week-on-week and the highest number since February 5.
During the second wave of coronavirus, admissions peaked at 4,134 on January 12.
In London, 437 admissions were reported on December 27, up 45 per cent week-on-week and the highest number since January 28. The winter wave peak was 977 on January 6.
According to further separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics there have been a total of 173,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Mr Johnson told reporters on Wednesday while visiting a vaccine site that 2.4 million eligible double-jabbed people are yet to take up the offer of a booster, adding: “I’m sorry to say this but the overwhelming majority of people who are currently ending up in intensive care in our hospitals are people who are not boosted.
“I’ve talked to doctors who say the numbers are running up to 90 per cent of people in intensive care who are not boosted.
“If you’re not vaccinated, you’re eight times more likely to get into hospital altogether.
“So, it’s a great thing to do. It’s very, very important. Get boosted for yourself and enjoy (the) New Year sensibly and cautiously.”