LONDON, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) — Fuelled by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, Britain registered a record number of daily coronavirus cases for the second day in a row.
A total of 88,376 new cases were reported, up from 78,610 cases 24 hours earlier, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 11,097,851, according to official figures released Thursday.
Another 1,691 Omicron cases have been found in Britain, the biggest daily increase since the COVID-19 variant was detected in the country, taking the total Omicron cases found in the country to 11,708, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed Wednesday.
The country also reported a further 146 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 146,937, with 7,579 COVID-19 patients still in hospital.
The latest data came as Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA’s chief medical adviser, said every person infected with the Omicron COVID variant is believed to be passing it on to between three and five others on average.
Hopkins told MPs on the Commons health committee that for Omicron, the R value in Britain is between three and five, and the variant is spreading rapidly, doubling in size every two days. The current R value of the Delta epidemic in Britain is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.2.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has advised people to prioritize events that matter to them in the run-up to Christmas.
Whitty said the record for daily hospital admissions for COVID could be broken in the coming weeks, urging people not to “mix with people you don’t have to.”
It is likely that COVID vaccines and anti-viral drugs will do “almost all of the heavy lifting” when it comes to tackling future strains – unless they are “extremely different,” Whitty said.
Meanwhile, scores of schools and colleges across Britain are closing early for Christmas, while others are preparing for further disruption and possible closures next year as the Omicron variant sweeps the country.
The BBC reported that schools in at least 30 local authorities in England have moved teaching online during the last week of term.
More than 89 percent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 81 percent have received both doses, according to the latest figures. More than 44 percent have received booster jabs, or the third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.