The United Kingdom has recorded its highest daily COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
A further 78,610 COVID-19 infections were reported on Wednesday, about 10,000 more than the previous high reported in January.
More than 11 million people have now tested positive for the disease in the UK, which has a total population of around 67 million.
The Omicron variant is believed to be behind the new wave of infections, which threatens to force millions of Brits into isolation over the Christmas period.
Speaking at a press conference with a sign saying “get boosted now,’ Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged everyone to get their third vaccine dose to prevent hospitalisation and death.
“I’m afraid we’re also seeing the inevitable increase in hospitalisations up by 10 per cent nationally week on week and up by almost a third in London,” he said.
“But we are also seeing signs of hope,” he added, referring to an overwhelming response to the goverment’s call for booster shot bookings.
“I want to say that each and every one of you who rolls up your sleeve to get jabbed is helping this national effort, and I want to thank everyone who has come forward.”
Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, earlier called the Omicron variant “probably the most significant threat” since the start of the pandemic.
“The numbers that we see on data over the next few days will be quite staggering compared to the rate of growth that we’ve seen in cases for previous variants,” she told a parliamentary committee.
Harries said that Omicron had the potential to put the National Health Service “in serious peril” because of the speed at which infections were increasing.
The new variant of the virus has a doubling time under two days in most regions in the UK, with its growth rate was being notable in London and Manchester in particular.
The army has been brought in to help the booster vaccination effort, with the government hoping to administer one million jabs each day in the lead-up to Christmas.