The UK has reported record coronavirus cases for the second day in a row – with 88,376 in the latest 24-hour period.
It comes after a high of 78,610 yesterday – which significantly beat the previous record of 68,053 from 8 January 2021.
This time last week there were 50,867 cases reported.
Experts have warned case records will likely be broken again in the coming weeks as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly.
There were 1,691 new confirmed Omicron cases reported in the UK yesterday, bringing the total to 11,708, the UK Health Security Agency said.
However, the real number is believed to be much higher.
Another 146 deaths were also reported on Thursday, taking the total within 28 days of a positive test to 146,937.
COVID-19: Hamilton and Lion King musicals announce further cancellations due to coronavirus cases
COVID-19: Puzzling disconnect between government scientists’ dire Omicron warnings and their advice to public
COVID-19: Medical advisers risk turning country into ‘public health socialist state’, Conservative MP says in deleted tweet
Meanwhile, a record number of daily booster jabs were administered for a second day in a row, according to the NHS.
Another 626,846 were carried out on Wednesday, while a record 821,075 third-dose appointments were made.
The government is in the middle of an unprecedented national vaccination effort to offer boosters in a bid to increase protection against Omicron.
Every person infected with the variant is believed to be passing it on to between three and five others on average, a senior government scientist has said.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the UK Health Security Agency’s chief medical adviser, told MPs on the health committee that for Omicron, the R value in the UK is between 3 and 5.
England’s chief medical officer has advised people to prioritise events that matter to them in the run-up to Christmas.
Professor Chris Whitty said the record for daily hospital admissions for COVID could be broken in the coming weeks, and urged people not to “mix with people you don’t have to”.
There is an hour-long special programme tonight at 7pm on Sky News answering all your questions on Omicron, restrictions and anything COVID-related.
You can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the Sky News app.
You can also text your questions to: 07583000853