ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan reports on whether the new Plan B covid measures are tough enough in the face of the new variant
Almost 250 cases of the Omicron Covid variant have been confirmed in the UK in a day.
On Thursday, the UK Health Security Agency reported 249 more cases of the new variant, making it the highest daily figure recorded so far.
On Wednesday, the figure was about half of that number at 131, and on Tuesday, the daily figure of new cases was 101.
The total number of cases of the Omicron variant now stands at 817.
Total cases and deaths
When looking at all Covid strains, the UK reported 50,867 more positive tests in a day.
There were also 148 more deaths, within 28 days of a positive test, reported on Thursday.
The UK has a Covid death toll of 146,135 and the total number of infections throughout the whole pandemic stands at 10,660,981.
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The Omicron strain of Covid-19 has more mutations than variants that had been identified before. Some of the mutations suggest it may be more contagious or more resistant to vaccination.
It was first reported by South Africa, but it has now been detected in at least 38 countries, including Japan, Australia, Nigeria and Brazil.
As of December 3, the World Health Organization has yet to link any deaths to Omicron. However, not all Covid tests currently assess Covid-19 samples for Omicron.
In South Africa, where Omicron is now the dominant strain, there have been hospitalisations linked to the variant. But authorities say most cases seem to be relatively mild.
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The new measures include government guidance to work from home, mandatory face mask wearing in more settings and mandatory Covid passports in large venues.
International travel rules had also been tightened earlier this week, with PCR-testing and self-isolation even for fully vaccinated travellers coming from non-red list countries.
Many southern Africa countries had been added to the red list and people coming to the UK from those countries face even tighter restrictions.
All but one of the 249 Omicron cases in the UK were in England. The nation has had 696 Omicron cases in total.
When looking at Covid cases of all strains, England recorded 43,550 in the latest 24-hour period. The country has had a total of 9,043,108 Covid cases.
There were 113 more coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the death toll to 127,064.
In Wales, there have been a total of nine Omicron cases so far - no new cases were reported on Thursday.
The country has also reported 2,302 Covid cases of all variants, bringing the infection total to 529,840.
There were 15 more Covid deaths, bringing the death toll to 6,467.
There was one more new case of the Omicron variant reported in Scotland. The total number of Omicron cases there is 109.
The nation recorded 3,196 more Covid cases of all strains in the latest 24-hour reporting period. Scotland has had 752,805 infections in total.
And there were 16 more Covid deaths, bringing the death toll to 9,688.
Northern Ireland has had three Omicron cases so far.
It reported 1,819 new cases of Covid, bringing the infection total to 335,228.
Meanwhile, there were four more deaths related to the virus. The country's Covid death toll is at 2,916.