The UK has recorded 81,713 COVID cases and 287 coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period.
It follows 99,652 positive cases and 270 deaths (of people within 28 days of first testing positive for COVID-19) reported yesterday.
The UK Health Security Agency believes England’s R number now stands between 1.1 and 1.5 – meaning that every 10 people infected with coronavirus will on average pass the disease to between 11 and 15 other people.
As it remains above 1, it means the virus is still growing rather than shrinking.
Meanwhile, the weekly Coronavirus Infection Survey, which is collated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that the percentage of people testing positive for the virus in the UK has continued to increase.
In the week ending 6 January – the latest figures available – the ONS estimated that 3,735,000 people had COVID-19, or around one in 15 people.
In Wales, the figure was 169,100 people – or around one in 20; in Northern Ireland, the figure was 99,200 people – or one in 20; and in Scotland in the week ending 7 January, it was 297,400 people – or one in 20.
The Omicron variant has become dominant and has continued to increase across the four nations, while the Delta variant has “fallen to very low levels”, the ONS added.
A wave of Omicron cases is possible over the summer as people resume social activities and the effect of the vaccines wanes, according to scientists advising the government.
Experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the precise timing and magnitude of the “exit wave” is “highly dependent on both population behaviour and the scale of the current wave, and cannot be predicted with any certainty”.
According to modelling, the projection is for between fewer than 1,000 admissions each day in the next wave to about 2,000 each day, if plan B restrictions remain in place until the end of January and are followed by a gradual return to socialising.