The UK has reported 189,846 new COVID-19 cases in the latest 24-hour period – a new record high in the pandemic, according to government data.
A further 203 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
The data compares with yesterday’s previous record high of 189,213 cases, along with 332 deaths reported, which included a backlog of fatality numbers that were not fully reported during the festive period.
This time last week 122,186 cases and 137 deaths were recorded.
An estimated 2.3 million people in the UK had COVID in the week up to 23 December – a substantial rise on the 1.4 million the previous week.
Meanwhile, new figures show that a total of 397,554 booster and third doses of a COVID vaccine were reported in the UK on Thursday.
More than 33.9 million booster and third doses have now been delivered across the country, with 1.6 million in the past seven days.
Some 64% of all adults in the UK have now received a booster or third dose.
The figures have been published by the UK’s four health agencies.
As of Thursday, a total of 51,771,384 first doses of COVID jab had been delivered in the UK – a rise of 33,371 on the previous day.
Some 47,412,181 second doses have been administered, an increase of 44,107.
In England, a total of 12,395 people were in hospital with COVID as of 8am today, according to figures from NHS England, which is up 68% from a week earlier and is the highest number since 25 February.
The number peaked at 34,336 on 18 January during the second coronavirus wave.
In London, 3,636 people were in hospital with COVID on 31 December, up 61% week-on-week and the highest number since 12 February.
The second-wave peak for London was 7,917 on 18 January, official data shows.
Analysis published by the UK Health Security Agency has shown there are “encouraging signs” that the risk of hospitalisation from the now-dominant Omicron variant was about one-third of that of Delta.
It also suggested that vaccines can work well against Omicron, with a third dose associated with an 81% reduced risk of hospitalisation when compared with the unvaccinated.