The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 in England is at its highest level since March, new figures reveal.
The number stood at 8,474 as of 8am on Monday, according to NHS England.
This is up 27% from a week earlier and is the highest number since 5 March, when the country was under tough lockdown restrictions.
During the second wave of coronavirus, the number peaked at 34,336 on 18 January.
There were 1,281 COVID-related admissions on Christmas Day - the highest daily number since 16 February.
In London, 364 admissions were reported on December 25, up 73% week-on-week but below the 390 admissions reported on December 23.
Admissions during the second wave peaked in London at 977 on January 6.
Officials could need to 'move quickly' if cases rise
It comes as one NHS boss warned officials would need to "move quickly" and put in tighter restrictions if the number of older and vulnerable people being hospitalised with the virus increases significantly.
Speaking to Sky News, Chris Hopson said that while admissions to hospitals are rising, they are not seeing the same numbers needing critical care as in January 2021.
He said the "early positive signs" are that this wave will not be as bad as January, when the UK went into lockdown.
"[Hospitals are] not seeing the numbers of older people who've got real respiratory problems, needing critical care, needing very large amounts of oxygen support," he said.
"We're just not seeing those numbers at this point that we saw in January 2021."
However, he said it was "too early" to tell whether these numbers could increase after intergenerational mixing at Christmas, and this won't become clear for another week to 10 days.
Mr Hopson also said that rather than only looking at the COVID caseload data, experts should be looking at the "entire load on the NHS".
Hospitals currently have a "very busy, urgent and emergency care pathway", he said.
"If we start seeing larger numbers of significantly larger hospitalisations of older people, who need that respiratory care, then that is the point when we need to be very ready to move pretty quickly to have tighter restrictions."
The data comes as health secretary Sajid Javid said no further measures would be introduced in England until the new year.
However, he warned people should "remain cautious" when taking part in New Year's celebrations.