By Doug Faulkner
A grounds fig of regular coronavirus cases person been reported crossed the UK for the 2nd time running, with 88,376 infections confirmed connected Thursday.
England's main aesculapian officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said the Omicron variant could emergence "incredibly fast", but its highest subside rapidly owed to boosters.
There was besides a grounds for top-up vaccines with 745,183 3rd oregon booster doses being fixed connected Wednesday.
Boris Johnson has urged radical to usage "caution" successful the look of the variant.
But the premier curate insisted England was not being enactment into lockdown by stealth, aft immoderate of his ain MPs had accused the authorities of putting hospitality nether an "effective lockdown".
Meanwhile, the Queen has cancelled her accepted pre-Christmas lunch arsenic a precautionary measurement amid the surge of the Omicron variant.
A further 146 deaths wrong 28 days of a affirmative trial were reported connected Thursday.
Daily cases were up from 78,610 connected Wednesday, itself a record, and much than 30,000 up connected past Thursday erstwhile 50,867 infections were reported.
Prof Whitty said the highest of the Omicron question whitethorn autumn faster than erstwhile Covid-19 peaks, though helium said the upswing volition beryllium "incredibly fast".
But helium added that this was conscionable a possibility, adding that the complaint of maturation would dilatory down erstwhile radical had received booster vaccines oregon been infected by the variant.
Speaking to the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, helium said that adjacent with radical acting cautiously the emergence successful Omicron cases would inactive beryllium "very fast".
But the booster programme was the way backmost to a "more mean track", Prof Whitty said.
Plan B measures and "really critically the booster programme" were intended to dilatory things down, helium said, but helium added that "if the facts alteration and it becomes clearer that things are heading the incorrect way, ministers are ever going to instrumentality changeless reviews of this".
Prof Whitty said if vaccines were little effectual than expected against Omicron past that would beryllium a "material change" successful however ministers viewed risks going forward.
He besides said it is apt that vaccines and antiviral drugs volition bash "almost each of the dense lifting" erstwhile it comes to tackling aboriginal Covid variants.
Prof Whitty said "each six months volition beryllium amended than the past six months" erstwhile it comes to warring Covid.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) main aesculapian advisor Dr Susan Hopkins told MPs that determination were present 15 radical successful infirmary with the Omicron variant, but Prof Whitty said the existent fig volition beryllium overmuch greater.
Dr Hopkins said that the earliest determination would beryllium reliable information connected Omicron would beryllium successful the week betwixt Christmas and New Year, with astir 250 radical with confirmed Omicron needed successful infirmary for a afloat survey connected severity.
The hospitality assemblage has called for enactment from government aft suffering amid the emergence successful Covid cases, with fears astir Omicron starring to bookings being cancelled.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak acknowledged it was a "difficult time" for hospitality but said the concern was "very antithetic to what we've done and encountered before", adding that the authorities was not telling radical to cancel things oregon closing down businesses.
The premier curate said helium was not telling the nationalist to cancel events but Prof Whitty had suggested radical should "prioritise" activities successful the tally up to Christmas.
Labour has called for clarity from the authorities connected however it wanted radical to behave successful the coming weeks.