Another 131 cases of the Omicron COVID variant have been recorded across the UK, taking the total to 568.
It marks the second day in a row that more than 100 cases have been reported after 101 people tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus strain on Wednesday – and it is an increase of around 30% day on day.
The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency shows 115 of the cases were in England, nine in Scotland, and four in Wales.
Northern Ireland has also reported its first three cases of the new variant.
PM minded to move to Plan B
The latest data comes as senior government sources revealed Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been minded to move to Plan B restrictions in England as early as this week – which could see the introduction of COVID vaccine passports and a requirement for millions to work from home.
The prime minister and his cabinet ministers are said to have received a downbeat assessment from England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, on the coronavirus situation in the country on Tuesday.
The sources told Sky News that the PM is worried that if he does not act now, he could regret not taking tougher action in a month’s time.
What is Plan B?
The government’s Plan B for dealing with winter pressures facing the NHS was first detailed in September.
Ministers said measures to deal with the coronavirus situation would include a strengthening of the government’s messaging, the possible introduction of COVID vaccine passports in some settings, mandatory face mask-wearing, and a return to work from home guidance.