People are being urged to make it a quiet Christmas by the director of public health for Brighton and Hove.
Alistair Hill made his plea after a big jump in new coronavirus cases locally and nationally, fuelled by the fast-spreading omicron strain.
Brighton and Hove City Council said that 2,964 new covid-19 cases were confirmed in the week to last Friday (17 December).
This was a rise of 58 per cent compared with the previous week and the equivalent of 1,016 cases for every 100,000 people.
It was higher than the rate for the south east (934) and the rate for England (862).
Mr Hill said that, in view of the rise of cases and the risk to our health services, he would suggest that we make it a quieter Christmas this year.
He said: “I’m very worried about the rapid rise of cases in London and the south east.
“We have heard encouraging news today of early studies that suggest that people infected with the new omicron variant may have a lower risk of needing a hospital stay than those with the delta variant.
“However, even if that is the case, the extremely high level of infections we are seeing is likely to lead to a greater number of people with serious disease that will place more pressure on our local NHS and social care.
“Data shows that every person infected with the omicron covid variant is believed to be passing it on to between three and five others on average.
“You can catch the omicron variant if you’ve had covid before or if you have been vaccinated.
“If you do have it and don’t immediately know, you are likely to infect people who haven’t been vaccinated and people who are more vulnerable to becoming seriously unwell if they contract it.
“We want everyone to be safe and healthy this winter.
“The advice from the country’s chief medical officer Chis Whitty is clear. Get your booster as soon as possible and get your first or second vaccinations as soon as you can if you haven’t already had them. It’s not too late.
“Don’t mix with people you don’t have to. Take lateral flow tests before meeting other people, particularly if they are vulnerable, and meet in areas of good ventilation or outdoors if possible.
“We all need to take covid-19 seriously and do everything we can to keep ourselves and the people we care about safe and prevent it from spreading.
“Please don’t drop your guard over the holiday period – the actions you take now will reduce the risk to you and others as we go into the new year.”