The UK has announced its highest daily number of COVID-related deaths of the pandemic, with 1,325 fatalities.
Government figures also show the UK recorded 68,053 new coronavirus cases – the highest daily total of the pandemic so far.
It is important to note that this is the highest number of deaths reported in a single day, but deaths can occur days or weeks before they are announced.
If we look at the number of deaths that actually occurred in a single day, these were much higher during the first peak of the pandemic.
The latest death figures continue to be affected by a lag in the publication of some recent data and contain some deaths from over the Christmas and New Year period that have only just been reported.
Responding to the announcement, a spokesperson for Public Health England (PHE) said “we can expect the death toll to continue to rise until we stop the spread”.
Dr William Welfare, director for the COVID-19 response at PHE, urged the public to stay at home where possible and warned that: “Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.”
It is now two weeks since Christmas Day, when experts warned the impact of household mixing over the festive period is most likely to be felt.
Four in 10 adults formed a bubble to celebrate Christmas Day, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest.
Earlier, a “major incident” was declared in London as growing infections have been putting “immense pressure on an already stretched NHS”, according to City Hall.
There are currently 7,034 people in hospital with COVID-19 in the capital, 35% higher compared with the first peak of the pandemic.
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ICU doctor warns of NHS exhaustion
An intensive care doctor also told Sky News that NHS staff are being “stretched to the absolute limit”, urging families to stop mixing inside each other’s homes.
However, there is better news on the horizon with the approval of a third coronavirus vaccine in the UK.
The Moderna vaccine has been shown to be 94% effective and should be available in the spring.