The 17 areas of the UK with the worst COVID outbreaks are all in London, new figures have revealed.
In 11 boroughs in the capital, the seven-day rolling rate of new COVID cases is higher than 2,000 per 100,000 people.
Lambeth continues to have the highest rate in the UK, with 7,773 new cases in the seven days to 25 December, the equivalent of 2,415.4 per 100,000 people.
This is down from a rate of 3,029.1 per 100,000 for the seven days to 18 December.
But the five areas with the biggest week-on-week rises are outside the capital, including Barrow-in-Furness (544.0 to 1,554.1, Copeland (439.4 to 1,325.7), Derry City & Strabane (768.3 to 1,653.1), Tameside (708.0 to 1,569.2) and West Lancashire (533.6 to 1,324.1).
These are the 20 local authorities with the worst COVID outbreaks (seven-day rolling rate of new infections per 100,000 people):
Lambeth, London, 2415.4
Southwark, London, 2274.6
Lewisham, London, 2250.5
Wandsworth, London, 2241.2
Thurrock, Eastern England, 2094.2
Croydon, London, 2073.5
Bexley, London, 2055.7
Hammersmith and Fulham, London, 2052.4
Greenwich, London, 2036.8
Sutton, London, 2033.2
Haringey, London, 2025.5
Merton, London, 2019.8
Havering, London, 1986.6
Bromley, London, 1981.1
Hackney and City of London, London, 1940.2
Dartford, South-east England, 1871.1
Islington, London, 1858.4
Barking and Dagenham, London, 1847.7
Brentwood, Eastern England, 1847.4
Waltham Forest, London, 1836.5, (5086), 1731.4, (4795)
Meanwhile, the NHS is setting up new Nightingale “surge hubs” at hospitals across England prepare for a potential wave of Omicron admissions.
Work on a total of eight hubs, each with a capacity of around 100 patients, is set to begin as early as this week, according to NHS England.
Further sites could also be identified to add a further 4,000 “super surge” beds.
The move comes as hospitals are using hotels, hospices and care homes to safely discharge as many people who are medically fit to leave as possible – freeing up beds for those who need them most.
A total of 10,462 people were in hospital in England with COVID-19 as of 8am on 29 December, according to figures from NHS England.
This is up 48% from a week earlier and is the highest number since 1 March.
During the second wave of coronavirus, the number peaked at 34,336 on 18 January.
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “The hospitalisations have now hit about 10,000 and about 70% of those are directly due to Covid.
“The daily admissions are increasing, the hospitalisations have roughly doubled in the last 10 days.
It comes as the government scrambles to secure supplies of COVID tests from around the world amid a shortage following a surge in demand.
In a letter to MPs, health secretary Sajid Javid said the supply of lateral flow tests (LFD) was being tripled in January and February from a pre-Omicron plan of 100 million to 300 million per month.
Watch: NHS plans new Nightingale facilities amid surge in Omicron cases