UK records over 50,000 new Covid-19 cases for fourth consecutive day

1 January 2021, 15:38 | Updated: 1 January 2021, 18:29

Hospitals are risking becoming overwhelmed by the sheer number of new coronavirus cases
Hospitals are risking becoming overwhelmed by the sheer number of new coronavirus cases. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The UK has recorded 53,285 new Covid-19 cases and 613 further deaths as hospital admissions continue to rise.

This is the fourth day that new cases have reached over 50,000, and means there has been a 63% rise in infections in the space of a week.

An eight-year-old child with an underlying health condition was among those who sadly died today, officials confirmed.

Yesterday the country recorded the worst ever daily total of new infections, with 55,892 people being confirmed to have the virus.

It also comes as the NHS comes under an unprecedented strain, as the number of patients in UK hospitals with Covid-19 passed the April peak.

The nation was offered a glimmer of hope in the last month of 2020, as two vaccines were approved, but there have been warnings a vaccine shortage is likely to be a "reality" in the coming months.

In a joint letter signed by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and the chief medical officers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland warned the possibility of vaccine shortages is a "reality which cannot be wished away".

"We have to ensure that we maximise the number of eligible people who receive the vaccine," it read.

Read more: Expert explains strategy behind second Covid jab cancellations

"Currently the main barrier to this is vaccine availability, a global issue, and this will remain the case for several months and, importantly, through the critical winter period.

Although today's figure is lower, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonanthan Van Tam earlier this week warned that we are not yet seeing the impact from Christmas mixing.

England's deputy chief medical officer presented the latest "rather sobering" coronavirus data while speaking at the Downing Street press conference on Wednesday.

Prof Van-Tam told reporters the UK is currently facing a "pretty grim and depressing" situation with many regions, particularly London and the South East, in a "precarious" position.

Responding to the fact that 78% of the country was plunged into Tier 4 restrictions from Thursday morning, the deputy CMO said: "Unfortunately it is a pretty grim and depressing picture at the moment.

"The situation in the UK is precarious in many parts already, particularly the South East and London," he said.

"It is almost certainly true that the NHS has not yet seen the impact of the infections that will have occurred during mixing on Christmas Day and that is also unfortunately rather sobering."