The UK Has Recorded A Catastrophic 774 Covid Deaths In A Day, The Highest Since The April Peak
The UK has recorded its highly daily death total from coronavirus since April 29 and the highest increase in new cases during the entire pandemic.
Official government statistics show a further 744 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday.
This brings the UK total to 69,051, and comes after health secretary Matt Hancock announced millions more people will face the toughest tier 4 restrictions from Boxing Day amid soaring case numbers.
There were also another 39,237 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, the highest figure reported on a single day, which brings the total number of cases to 2,149,551.
The recent surge in cases has been largely blamed on a new and more contagious variant of the virus, which is said to be up to 70% more transmissible than previous versions.
The strain, known as VUI-202012/01, has pushed the R number up from 1.1 to 1.3, meaning Covid-19 is still spreading despite the tiered restrictions.
And at a press conference in Downing Street today, the health secretary Matt Hancock said that cases of another mutant version which can be passed on more easily had been discovered in the UK.
He said both people infected “are contacts of cases who have travelled from South Africa over the past few weeks”.
Mr Hancock said: "This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK."
The minister said both cases and close contacts of the cases have been quarantined, and immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa have been put in place.
Anyone who has been in South Africa in the last fortnight, and those who have been in contact with them, must now quarantine.
He added: "These measures are temporary while we investigate further this new strain which is shortly to be analysed at Porton Down."