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UK sees biggest daily rise of 36,804 covid-19 cases and 691 further deaths
22 December 2020, 16:41 | Updated: 22 December 2020, 17:10
A record 36,804 Covid cases were reported in the last 24 hours in the UK, with the daily Covid-19 death toll also climbing, to 691, according to the latest official figures.
This is a new daily record for the number of coronavirus cases in the UK, surpassing the previous record of 35,928 set on Sunday.
The surge in cases is driving more hospitalisations and deaths, with Tuesday sadly marking the highest number of daily deaths since 25 November, when 696 deaths were recorded.
It is the highest number of deaths recorded on a Tuesday since 5 May.
Today's figures bring the total number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 68,304.
The rise in the number of cases and deaths come as some hospitals have been forced to postpone routine care and non-urgent operations to redeploy staff to Covid wards.
The new data also shows that there were 1,875 people admitted to hospitals across the UK with coronavirus on Friday.
This is a decrease from Thursday's 2,095, but is the highest number admitted on a Friday since 17 April.
Two of London’s major NHS Trusts have begun postponing routine care and non-urgent operations due to Covid-19 pressures, as the capital faces a surge in cases.
Much of South East England and all of Wales are currently in strict Tier 4 restrictions, as the more infectious variant of Covid-19 drives a rapid spread of the virus.
The rest of England is expected to be placed in Tier 4 measures when the restrictions are reviewed on December 30, although the government have not ruled out taking action ahead of this date.
At Monday’s Downing Street press conference, Sir Patrick Vallance indicated a lockdown may be needed in wider areas of England, particularly as Christmas mixing may result in an increased spread of cases.
He said: "The evidence on this virus is that it spreads easily, it's more transmissible, we absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place.
"I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it's likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced."
The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) met again on Monday to consider the new variant and said, while it does not appear to alter the course of the disease, it does spread more easily.
"That again reinforces the point that it's important to get ahead of this and to make sure that the tiering system is adequate to stop things going, and not to watch it and react in retrospect," Sir Patrick said.
There are concerns that early data indicates the mutated virus could more easily infect children, however experts say more data is needed and it is not thought to make children more likely to become seriously ill.
The chief executive of BioNTech has also said the company is confident its vaccine works against the new variant.