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UK registers record number of COVID-19 cases due to Omicron variant

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By Euronews
A sign marks the entrance of a vaccination centre at St Thomas' Hospital in London, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.
A sign marks the entrance of a vaccination centre at St Thomas' Hospital in London, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.   -   Copyright  Frank Augstein/AP Photo   -  

The UK registered 78,610 daily COVID-19 cases on Wednesday — the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic as the highly transmissible new Omicron variant spreads.

The amount of time it takes for the number of Omicron cases to double in some regions is down to less than two days, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

He urged people to get their booster dose, which would give them more protection against the virus. More than 650,000 booster shots were given on Tuesday (December 14), with more than 45 per cent of adults given a booster shot.

Around 81 per cent of the UK's population aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated against the virus.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that they could expect records to continue being broken as Omicron spreads.

"This is a really serious threat at the moment. How big a threat — there are several things we don't know but all the things that we do know are bad and the principal one, being the speed at which this is moving. It is moving at an absolutely phenomenal pace," Whitty said.

Whitty said that they still needed new data on the hospitalisation and mortality risk among fully vaccinated and boosted individuals with the new variant.

He urged people to take precautions, get tested before seeing family, to meet outdoors where possible especially during the Christmas season, and to prioritise social interactions that really matter to them.