Coronavirus latest as UK reports highest daily cases ever at 78,610; Sajid Javid refuses to rule out further restrictions; data on Omicron being milder has been “overinterpreted”, Chris Whitty tells news conference.
That is all for tonight’s live coverage. We will be back tomorrow morning with the latest COVID-19 news.
Coronavirus is featured on a number of UK front pages this evening, including The Daily Telegraph and Financial Times.
You can see our full round-up of Thursday’s front pages here.
You can also watch the Press Preview on Sky News every evening from 10.30pm.
Reviewing Thursday’s papers are Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror associate editor, and Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail consultant editor.
by Thomas Moore, science correspondent
Doctors are trained in how to deliver bad news. But the chief medical officer is going to need his very best bedside manner in the coming weeks.
The slides Professor Chris Whitty showed at the Downing Street COVID briefing were eye-watering.
The latest daily figures show there have been more than 78,000 cases in the past 24 hours – 10,000 more than the previous record set all the way back in January.
And there will be worse to come.
Read his full analysis of Wednesday’s press conference here:
The Los Angeles school district – which was among the first to announce mandatory vaccines for students – has become the latest in California to delay the deadline for students to be jabbed.
The new rules would have forced thousands of unvaccinated students to return to distance learning from the start of next year.
The original deadline has been moved from 10 Janaury to the autumn of 2022.
Officials said 87% of LA students aged 12 and up had shown proof of vaccination or qualified for a medical exemption, but enforcing the January deadline would have barred 27,000 students from campuses and overwhelmed the district’s school system, which is already struggling with staff shortages.
Three Apple stores in Miami, Annapolis and Ottawa have been forced to close following a rise in COVID cases in North America.
There have been a number of exposures among employees, the company said in a statement.
COVID-19 cases are rising in parts of Canada and the US, with Canada’s government urging its residents not to leave the country.
Apple said on Tuesday that all customers and employees at its stores in the US will be required to wear masks amid fears over the Omicron variant.
Emmanuel Macron has admitted it is possible the COVID-19 vaccine could become compulsory in France – but said it was not the priority for now.
In a news conference on Wednesday, the French president was asked if the jab could be added to the list of vaccines already compulsory in France.
“It’s entirely possible,” he said.
Mr Macron added the vaccine should be given to children as young as five, but stressed this was ultimately the decision of parents.
He took to Twitter after it was confirmed a record-breaking 656,711 booster and third doses were administered in the UK on Tuesday.
Those in Canada have been urged not to travel away from the country – as the vaccine roll-out is accelerated in a bid to combat the Omicron variant.
“I say very clearly: Now is not the time to travel,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at a news conference, adding that it is clear there is community transmission of Omicron in Canada.
Mr Duclos added that the government is sending millions more COVID-19 vaccine doses and rapid tests to the ten provinces.
Canada had earlier implemented travel bans on 10 African countries due to concerns about the new variant.
Peter Jüni, director of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table, urged people to take precautions, get vaccinated and not take Omicron lightly.
“What really worries me is that people are asleep at the steering wheel, internationally,” Mr Jüni said. “They have wishful thinking it will be mild … This is not a realistic attitude.”
In case you missed it, Dr Nikki Kanani earlier apologised to her children live on television for their scaled-back plans in the run-up to Christmas.
Addressing a Downing Street news briefing, she said: “As for my Christmas plans, they’re already scaling back. There will be far fewer things that I’ll do with my children as we run-up to Christmas – and if they’re listening, sorry, but that is absolutely a fact.
“We will enjoy it together, we will enjoy it at home and we will enjoy it safely.
“As and when I need to work over the Christmas period I will be, just as my colleagues will be, because that’s what we’re here to do.”