COVID has ruined Christmas for 122,186 unlucky Brits who have today tested positive and now face self-isolation.
Total Omicron infections hit 114,625 as scientists offer a ray of festive hope, suggesting the new variant is milder than those that came before it.
A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
The NHS will continue to rollout vaccines on Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year in a bid to protect people from Omicron.
As millions more get jabbed – it's key that you try and keep your family safe this festive season and get a test if you feel unwell.
A further 23,719 people have tested positive for the Omicron variant in the UK today.
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And another 137 people died within 28 days of a positive PCR test.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also revealed that one in 35 Brits currently have Covid and that there were 1.7 million infections last week.
Infection data announced today is 2.8 per cent higher than yesterday and is the third record day in a row.
Rates are also 31.3 per cent higher than this time last week.
The number of deaths in England of people with the Omicron variant has risen to 29, according to the UKHSA.
Hospital admissions in England for people with confirmed or suspected Omicron rose to 366.
The increase in the UK comes after it was revealed that Omicron could be fading in South Africa.
This is great news for Brits, where the virus is currently running rampant across the country after creating an epicentre in London, which is home to the fastest rising cases in the country.
In London a total of 386 Covid-19 admissions were recorded by hospitals in London on December 22, new figures from NHS England show.
This is up 92 per centweek-on-week and the highest number for a single day since February 1.
Admissions in London during the second wave peaked at 977 on January 6.
Across England as a whole, 1,246 admissions were recorded on December 22, up 55 per cent week-on-week and the highest number for a single day since February 16.
The second-wave peak was 4,134 admissions on January 12.
The number of Covid-19 admissions includes people admitted to hospital in the previous 24 hours who were known to have Covid-19, plus any patients diagnosed in hospital with Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours.
OMI ON THE OUT
But South African scientists are confident the Omicron outbreak there is receding and may last a total of just a couple of months.
There was a sudden steep rise in cases from close to zero in mid-November to an average of 10,000 daily cases early in December, after the variant was first detected there.
That then fell sharply to around 5,000 per day on average.
A report from the UK Health Security Agency revealed real-world data on how serious Omicron is.
The UKHSA report also suggested the level of vaccination and prior natural infections is causing milder symptoms from Omicron, which matches what medics in South Africa had suggested.
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive, said: “Our latest analysis shows an encouraging early signal that people who contract the Omicron variant may be at a relatively lower risk of hospitalisation than those who contract other variants.
"However, it should be noted both that this is early data and more research is required to confirm these findings.
“Cases are currently very high in the UK, and even a relatively low proportion requiring hospitalisation could result in a significant number of people becoming seriously ill.
"The best way that you can protect yourself is to come forward for your first two doses of vaccine, or your booster jab and do everything you can to stop onward transmission of the infection.”
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