More than 1,000 new cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus have been confirmed in the south west, according to UK Health Security Agency figures published on Tuesday. 

The total number of confirmed Omicron cases across the UK has now reached 60,508 after the agency identified 15,363 new cases in yesterday's (Tuesday, December 21) report. 

The report shows there have been a total of 4,421 confirmed Omicron cases in the south west, showing an increase of 1,075 from Monday's data.

London remains the region of England with the highest number of confirmed Omicron cases (16,081), followed by the south east (12,288), and the East Midlands (6,860).  

Scotland has seen 1,478 confirmed Omicron cases, and Wales 640.

Northern Ireland has not reported updated figures "due to a changing in data cut off times to align more closely with England and other devolved administrations".

By the time Monday's report was published, Northern Ireland had reported a total of 2,349 confirmed Omicron cases. 

Yesterday evening, Boris Johnson told the public Christmas will be able to go ahead without further restrictions - but warned new regulations may be required afterwards.

In a video message on Twitter, the prime minister said: "There is no doubt that Omicron continues to surge with a speed unlike anything we’ve seen before.

"The situation remains extremely difficult but I also recognise that people have been waiting to hear whether their Christmas plans are going to be affected.

"So what I can say tonight is that naturally we can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas – and we’re going to keep a constant eye on the data, and we’ll do whatever it takes to protect public health.

“But in view of the continuing uncertainty about several things – the severity of Omicron, uncertainty about the hospitalisation rate or the impact of the vaccine rollout or the boosters, we don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.”

He added: "We continue to monitor Omicron very closely and if the situation deteriorates we will be ready to take action if needed. 

"What this means is that people can go ahead with their Christmas plans, but the situation remains finely balanced and I would urge everyone to exercise caution, to keep protecting yourselves and your loved ones, especially the vulnerable.

"And remember to keep following the guidance – wear a mask indoors when required to do so, keep fresh air circulating, and take a test before you visit elderly or vulnerable relatives."

The Government has announced the self-isolation period for fully vaccinated people who have coronavirus has been cut to a week, which will give more people the chance to spend time with their families over Christmas.

From Wednesday, vaccinated people in England who receive negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period will no longer have to self-isolate for the full 10 days.

Case rates

Of the 377 local authority areas in the UK, 344 (91%) have seen a week-on-week rise in case rates per 100,000 people, 31 (8%) have seen a fall, and two are unchanged.

All of Somerset's districts have seen week-on-week rises in case rates per 100,000 people and the number of new Covid cases recorded. 

The figures, published yesterday, are for the seven days to Friday, December 17.

Bath and North East Somerset has the highest case rate in the county per 100,000 people (676.3), and North Somerset saw the highest number of new cases in the seven days to December 17 (1,373).

Somerset West and Taunton had the county's lowest figures in both categories.

Three London boroughs have the highest case rates per 100,000 people: Lambeth (2,728.3), Wandsworth (2,643.9), and Hackney and City of London (2,352.3). 

Scarborough, Yorkshire and the Humber has the lowest case rate per 100,000 people in the UK (287.9).