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Covid: UK sees biggest-ever daily rise in cases after recording 35,928 more infections
20 December 2020, 16:55 | Updated: 20 December 2020, 17:34
The UK has seen its largest-ever daily rise in coronavirus cases after 35,928 people test positive while a further 326 deaths are recorded.
Sunday's fatalities update is more than double the 144 declared on the same day last week and brings Britain's tally since the pandemic began to 67,401.
The number of deaths announced by the Department of Health at the weekend is usually lower due to a lag in reporting.
It comes as London and the South East of England were plunged into the strictest Tier 4 Covid restrictions due to an "out of control" new strain of the virus.
The 326 deaths were people who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday.
However, separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been more than 83,000 deaths involving the virus in the UK.
The 35,928 new lab-confirmed infections took the UK's tally of cases to 2,040,147 after the two-million mark was surpassed on Saturday.
On Saturday, a further 534 deaths and 27,052 cases were reported and the second-biggest daily rise happened on Thursday when 35,383 new infections were announced.
However, this figure included the 11,000 additional cases that had been previously unreported due to system maintenance in Wales.
In England, a further 266 people who tested positive for coronavirus died in hospital, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 46,388, NHS England said on Sunday.
Patients were aged between 42 and 101. All except seven, aged between 53 and 90, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths occurred between November 8 and December 19, while 13 other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday the “November lockdown did not work” against the new coronavirus strain and implied Tier 4 measures may be here for a long time.
Pressed by Tom Swarbrick on how long the measures will be here for, Mr Hancock told LBC: “The legal review is every two weeks, but I think we do need to be absolutely straightforward that the actions needed to control this new variant are really serious.
“We know that the November lockdown did not work against this new variant, because the cases carried on rising in Kent.”
The new variant, which is now dominant in London, is up to 70 percent more transmissible than the previous strain.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said early analysis showed the new strain could increase the reproductive rate by 0.4 or more, making it very difficult to reduce cases.
Although the new variant is spreading faster, and therefore harder to control, there is currently no suggestion that it is more deadly or causes more severe symptoms.