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1.7MILLION Brits had Coronavirus last week

A record 1.7million people had Covid last week and the ten worst-hit by Covid areas in England are all within a three square mile radius in south London, official figures showed today as UK cases rose to another new high of 122,000.

London is being battered hardest by the supermutant Omicron variant after quickly becoming a hotbed for the strain earlier this month, with one in 20 infected in the capital according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

The ten postcodes — all in Wandsworth and Lambeth — have an average infection rate of 3,819 cases per 100,000 people, more than quadruple the 838 per 100,000 in the rest of the country.

Government dashboard data shows there were 122,186 positive tests across the country in the last 24 hours, which was up about 30 per cent on the week before and more than double the figure a fortnight ago.

Today's new infections mean nearly 900,000 Britons who've tested positive in the last 10 days face spending Christmas Day in self-isolation — although people who tested positive a week ago in England can be let out early if they come back negative on lateral flows.

Meanwhile separate ONS figures revealed nationally there were 1.69million infections per day in the week up to December 19 — last Sunday — rising 55 per cent compared to the previous week.

The survey — based on swabs of more than 555,000 people — is regarded as the most reliable indicator of Britain's Covid pandemic because it uses random sampling rather than relying on people coming forward for tests.

Despite there being a record number of infections last week, the ONS' findings are out of step with gloomy Government modelling that has suggested Omicron was doubling nationally every two days.

Testing positivity also suggests infection aren't increasing quite as quickly as expected, rising to 16 per cent on December 19 up from nine per cent at the start of the month.

Meanwhile, there were also another 137 Covid deaths today, marking a rise of about a quarter in a week. Latest hospital data shows there were another 1,171 new admissions on December 20, up 30 per cent.

But hospitalisations in London were dangerously close to the Government's threshold of 400 for more national restrictions, reaching 386 on December 22.

The rising statistics came as SAGE warned the NHS still faces a wave of Covid hospital admissions on par with or worse than previous peaks.

Mounting evidence — including findings three key UK studies — has indicated the Omicron variant is up to 70 per cent less likely to cause hospitalisation than Delta.

But SAGE — which has advised Government throughout the pandemic — warns the variant is spreading so fast that it could offset any reduction in severity.

Scientists have warned that even if only a tiny percentage of a vey large number infected people need hospital care, it could still result in a big wave of admissions.

But there are growing calls for ministers to reveal how many Covid patients are primarily being treated for the virus amid concerns that the figures are being inflated by routine testing.

Data from the UKHSA shows the ten worst hit Middle Layer Super Output Areas (MSOAs) — of which there are 6,791 in England — are located in a three square-mile area of south London.

Acre Lane in Brixton has the highest case rate in the country, with an average of 5,360 infections per 100,000 people during the week up to December 18.

The infection rate rose an incredible 366 per cent over seven days — more than quadrupling over the week.

It was followed by Clapham North (3,941), Tooting Bec Common (3,934) and Putney Town and Wandsworth Park (3,667).

Four of the top ten areas were in Clapham, the affluent neighbourhood in Lambeth known for its restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

In total, 44 of London's 982 MSOAs had an infection rate of more than 3,000 per 100,000 during the week, meaning more than three per cent of people in the areas were infected with the virus.

There were 2,260 people in hospital in London with Covid as of 8am this morning, NHS England said. This is the highest number since February 25 and is up 47 per cent from a week earlier.

During the second wave of coronavirus, the number peaked at 7,917 on January 18.

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