The UK on Friday announced a new record number of virus cases fulled by the Omicron variant.
The government reported 122,186 new cases in the last 24 hours, more than 2,000 higher than Thursday’s figure.
The UK is among the worst hit countries in Europe with a virus death toll of 147,857.
Case numbers surged 48% over the last seven days as compared to the previous week, while hospitalisations and death figures have risen much less sharply.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said Thursday that figures so far show the risk of being admitted to hospital with Omicron infection to be up to 70% less than with the previously dominant Delta variant.
The government agency cautioned however that the results were “preliminary and highly uncertain” since they are based on a small sample of cases of hospitalisations so far.
The UKHSA’s chief executive Jenny Harries told BBC Radio 4 on Friday that the data offer a “glimmer of Christmas hope” but “it definitely isn’t yet at the point where we could downgrade that serious threat.”
The government will not update its virus case figures again until Dec 27 due to the public holidays.