UK reports more than 90,000 daily COVID cases as infections break record again

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 17: Members of the public queue for vaccinations on a vaccination bus at West College Scotland Clydebank Campus on December 17, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. People are being asked to limit socialising to three households over the Christmas season, with shops and hospitality venues expected to bring back social distancing measures and screens. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is behind the stricter requirements. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The UK has recorded a record number of new COVID infections for the third day in a row. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The UK has reported more than 90,000 new COVID infections in a day.

Some 93,045 people were confirmed to have tested positive in the 24 hours to 9am on Friday, up from 88,376 the previous day.

Friday is the third day in a row that the figure has broken the record for the highest number of daily infections as the Omicron variant continues to spread at alarming speed.

A further 111 people were confirmed to have died within 28 days of testing positive, and 900 people were admitted to hospital with COVID.

The emergence of Omicron has driven up infections, due to the variant's high transmissibility and ability to evade immunity conferred by previous infection.

Yahoo News UK/Flourish/Government data
Yahoo News UK/Flourish/Government data

The R rate for Omicron could be as high as three to five, a top health official warned on Thursday, meaning that every person infected passes it on to between three and five people.

Boris Johnson said on Friday that said the the country is facing a “considerable wave” of Omicron, as he urged people to get their COVID booster jabs. He has refused to rule out further restrictions, but has stopped short of advising Christmas parties should be cancelled.

“Omicron is a very serious threat to us now,” he said

“We are seeing a considerable wave coming through and people have got to be prepared and they have got to understand what it entails.

“That’s why the best thing everybody can do is not just follow the guidance we have set out but get boosted now."

So far, more than 25 million booster doses have been administered across the UK, with more than 21 million in England, 2.3 million in Scotland, 1.2 million in Wales and 615,000 in Northern Ireland.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY DECEMBER 17 File photo dated 02/12/21 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson receiving his booster jab. Faith leaders are supporting the Government in its bid to increase the uptake of booster jabs as Omicron cases surge.
Boris Johnson is urging the public to come forward for their boosters amid surgeing cases of Omicron (PA Images)

The news comes as the group of Independent SAGE scientists called for an immediate "circuit breaker" to stem the surge of the new variant.

"Omicron is doubling so fast that sheer numbers will v likely outweigh any advantage of reduced severity (if it exists)," said Professor Christina Pagel from Independent SAGE on Twitter.

"To prevent NHS being overwhelmed in a few weeks & for a safer Xmas we need to act now. Not next week, not after Xmas, now.

"We are calling for an immediate *10 day* circuit break to protect NHS & enable safer mixing over Xmas (25-28 December).

"Reassess over Xmas to see what is needed then, when much more info available. Situation changing so fast, can't plan far ahead."

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that Omicron is now the dominant variant in Scotland.

She told a briefing that 51.4% of cases in the country are now likely to be the new variant.

Read more: Omicron reinfection rate ‘5.4 times greater than Delta’

The first minister said overall coronavirus cases in Scotland had increased by more than 40% in the past week, and that Omicron is “significantly more transmissible” than previous variants..

She told a briefing: “The tsunami I warned about a week ago is now starting to hit us.”

In Wales, it was announced that nightclubs would close on 27 December and social distancing rules would return in shops.

First minister Mark Drakeford has not ruled out adding more COVID restrictions after Christmas, as he said there “won’t be any parties at nightclubs on New Year’s Eve”.

Drakeford urged people to downsize their festive plans, saying his own celebrations would be “modest”.

“A smaller Christmas will definitely be a safer Christmas,” he said.

Watch: How are Omicron symptoms ‘different’ from previous variants?