Latest Covid figures: UK breaks daily record for cases for second consecutive day

23 December 2020, 16:17 | Updated: 24 December 2020, 07:35

Wednesday's figures are the highest number of cases recorded in the UK since mass testing began.
Wednesday's figures are the highest number of cases recorded in the UK since mass testing began. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The UK has recorded a second consecutive record high of Covid-19 cases, with 39,237 positive tests and a further 744 deaths.

The number of cases increased by 2,433, from Tuesday's previous high of 36,804.

The death toll within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test sadly also rose by 744, the highest number since 29 April.

Earlier on Tuesday, the government's SAGE group estimated that the R rate has risen slightly to between 1.1 and 1.3.

However, they warned that this estimate is based on data over the last few weeks, so will lag behind the current situation in the UK.

Explained: Which new areas will enter Tier 4 and what are the new Christmas rules?

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The latest record high comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that many more areas of southern England would be plunged into Tier 4 measures from Boxing Day.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Mr Hancock as admitted Tier 3 restrictions are "not enough" to keep the new variant of the virus at bay.

He added: "Against this backdrop of rising infections, rising hospitalisations and rising numbers of people dying from coronavirus it is absolutely vital that we act.

"We simply cannot have the kind of Christmas that we all yearn for."

There are some concerns that the NHS may be overwhelmed as the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 nears the peak reached in Spring.

The latest data revealed there were 20,917 people in hospital with coronavirus on 21 December 2020, with 1,529 people currently on a mechanical ventilator.