The UK has reported another record amount of Covid cases with almost 120,000 people testing positive in the last 24 hours.
Today’s figure of 119,789 is the highest daily number since the pandemic began and the second day in a row infections have topped 100,000.
However, the true figure could be larger with technical issues meaning the number of tests being carried out is under-reported.
A further 147 coronavirus-related deaths have also been reported in the UK.
The figures compare with 106,122 cases yesterday and 140 deaths.
It comes after two positive studies confirmed Omicron is less severe than the Delta strain.
Scientists in a Scotland-wide study have said the variant is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of hospitalisation compared with Delta.
Separate research from Imperial College London indicates that people with the new strain are up to a fifth less likely to need admission to hospital.
Those who do wind up in hospital are 40 to 45% less likely to require a stay of one night or more.
Government sources told The Daily Telegraph the research weakens the case for post-Christmas restrictions.
However, researchers have added that although Omicron appears less severe, it is more transmissible partly because the current crop of coronavirus vaccines are less effective against it.
Scientists fear there is still the potential for health services to face increasing demand if Omicron cases continue to soar.
Wales and Scotland have already announced post-Christmas restrictions, but Boris Johnson is not expected to make a decision for England until after Boxing Day.
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