An additional 249 people have tested positive for the Omicron Covid-19 variant in the UK, which increased the total number of cases with this strain to 817, health authorities confirmed.
Thursday’s figure is nearly double of what was reported a day ago (131 cases), reports Xinhua news agency.
In the last 24 hours, the country registered 50,867 new Covid-19 cases, taking the overall infection tally to 10,722,083, while 148 new fatalities raised the death toll to 146,592.
At a Downing Street press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Omicron variant’s doubling rate could be between two to three days, highlighting just how infectious the new strain is.
The rise in cases of the variant showed it is spreading even faster than Johnson had predicted.
Johnson has announced that the UK will move to “Plan B” restrictions to combat the rapid spread of the Omicron variant this winter.
He has asked people to work from home when possible from December 13 while announcing that face masks would be a legal requirement in “most public indoor” areas such as theatres and cinemas from Friday.
Proof of two vaccine doses or a negative coronavirus test will be necessary for those wanting to enter nightclubs and large venues from next week, Johnson said, adding that people who are contacts of Omicron cases could face daily testing instead of undergoing a period of isolation.
Till date, more than 89 per cent of people aged 12 and over in the country have had their first Covid vaccine dose, and over 81 per cent are fully inculated, according to the latest figures.
Some 37 per cent have received the booster jab.