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Coronavirus: UK records 18,450 cases and 506 deaths in 24 hours
15 December 2020, 17:58
The UK has recorded another 18,450 coronavirus cases and 506 deaths in the past 24 hours.
It brings the UK total to 64,908 deaths - one of the highest in the world - and 1,888,116 cases.
Separate figures from other agencies show that, where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths, there have now been 81,000 deaths involving the virus in the UK.
The number of cases has been steadily rising in recent weeks, despite the UK coming out of lockdown less than two weeks ago.
London and large parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will enter Tier 3 restrictions in an attempt to curb the number of infections and hospitalisations.
Jeremy Hunt: Whitty and Vallance need to make call on Christmas household mixing
It comes amid a growing row over whether households should be allowed to mix as planned over the Christmas holidays.
Many senior scientists, medical publications and politicians - including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer - have called on the Government to rethink their plan to ease restrictions.
Currently, measures will be loosened for five days between December 23 and 27 to allow up to three households to mix together.
Those within bubbles will be able to share Christmas dinner inside and even hug one another, as long as it takes place in a private home.
Government Minister says Christmas mixing is 'under review'
But a joint editorial piece in the British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal demanded the Government ban the mixing of households this Christmas.
It warned that the NHS would struggle to cope with the number of Covid-19 hospital admissions in January as a result of gatherings.
It is unclear whether the PM will change his mind on the issue, but Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is meeting leaders of the devolved nations on Friday to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, the Government is also coming under pressure to change its policy on school closures after it threatened Greenwich Council with legal action when it sent a letter to schools asking them to shut early for the Christmas holidays.