UK records 58,784 new Covid cases - highest daily total ever

4 January 2021, 16:20 | Updated: 4 January 2021, 18:40

People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid 19 walk in Oxford Circus
People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid 19 walk in Oxford Circus. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Another 58,784 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the UK, the highest daily total since the pandemic began.

A further 407 people have died in England, Wales and Northern Ireland within 28 days of testing positive, taking the UK's total death toll to 75,431.

Including today's figures, the total number of coronavirus cases in the UK is now 2,713,563.

Read more: Boris Johnson to set out tougher new Covid-19 measures in address to the nation

It is the seventh day in a row that the UK has recorded more than 50,000 cases per day.

The figures came as the UK's chief medical officers recommended that the Covid-19 alert level should be moved to five - the highest setting.

Boris Johnson is set to address the nation later amid a rise in cases, with the Prime Minister expected to extend the Tier 4 lockdown across England, as well as implementing other restrictions.

Parliament will be recalled on Wednesday as the pandemic crisis continues.

Parts of the health services across the UK are under "immense pressure", the chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and NHS England's national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said.

In a joint statement on Monday evening they said that due to rising cases and without further action there is a risk of the NHS "in several areas" being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.

They said: "Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK chief medical officers and NHS England medical director recommend that the UK alert level should move from Level 4 to Level 5.

"Many parts of the health systems in the four nations are already under immense pressure. There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of Covid patients in hospitals and in intensive care.

"Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new more transmissible variant. We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.

"Although the NHS is under immense pressure, significant changes have been made so people can still receive lifesaving treatment. It is absolutely critical that people still come forward for emergency care. If you require non-urgent medical attention, please contact your GP or call NHS 111."

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England, said: "The continuous rise in cases and deaths should be a bitter warning for us all.

"We must not forget the basics - the lives of our friends and family depend on it.

"Keep your distance from others, wash your hands and wear a mask. This virus will transmit wherever you let your guard down."