Nearly 250 new cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 were identified in the UK on Thursday – almost doubling yesterday’s daily total.
It brings the official count in the UK to 817 – though the true figure is likely to be significantly higher.
On Wednesday, 131 cases of the new strain were identified – but that jumped 90% to 249 a day later.
It comes amid growing fears about the variant, with experts confident that it is far more infectious, and concerned that it may also be more resistant to vaccines. Scientists are desperately gathering more data to understand more about the strain.