The UK recorded another 102,483 Covid-19 cases and 194 deaths on Wednesday.
The latest daily infections figure is more than 12 per cent higher than the 91,345 reported on the same day last week.
It also marks a rise on Tuesday’s figure of 93,524. The previous day saw the UK’s highest ever number of daily cases, 226,524, although that tally included positive cases identified over the weekend.
The latest daily deaths tally bring the UK’s official pandemic death toll to 164,123.
Wednesday’s number compares with 250 deaths reported on Tuesday and 169 on Monday.
The number of patients in hospital with Covid has again nudged higher. The latest update shows there were 16,720 patients carrying the virus as of Tuesday – a rise of 408 on the day before.
However there are some signs that the recent surge in cases may be slowing down.
Some 603,597 cases have been reported over the past seven days. While that is 16.9 per cent higher than the previous seven days, it is a lower weekly percentage increase than in recent days, suggesting the recent rise could be beginning to flatten out.
However England’s chief medical officer warned earlier on Wednesday that rates of Covid-19 are “high and rising” in England.
Professor Sir Chris Whitty said the virus was causing pressure in the NHS but that high rates of transmission were fortunately not translating into intensive care (ICU) cases and deaths.
Meanwhile, he said that people should not expect an “end point” to Covid-19.
Prof Whitty said the virus will steadily become “less dominant” and likely become a seasonal disease.
He said that people should expect significant problems in “all parts of the world for the rest of our lives”.
Prof Whitty also said that school closures due to the pandemic were likely to have caused “substantial” issues for some children.
Addressing the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Public Health’s annual public health conference, Prof Whitty said: “Covid cases are rising quite rapidly from a quite a high base and this is driven by a number of different factors of which BA.2 – the new Omicron variant – is a large part of it.
“I think it’s important firstly to acknowledge that rates are high and rising in virtually all parts of England.
“This is not translating into the very significant surges in all cause excess mortality, so we are still running at quite low rates in terms of mortality.
“Of course, that doesn’t mean that that is having no impact at all from it – if we look at hospitalisations, there are now quite significant numbers of people in hospital and they are now rising again, and I think will continue to rise for at least the next two weeks.
“So, there is pressure on the NHS and fortunately this is not translating into cases in ICU, it’s not at the moment translating into significant impact on excess deaths.”