Coronavirus-related deaths hit a near-all-time high today, as the UK recorded a further 1,041 fatalities.
The figure comes just shy of the nation’s highest ever daily death toll in the peak of the first wave in April, when 1,072 fatalities were recorded.
It means more than 77,000 people in the UK have died within 28 days of testing positive from coronavirus since the pandemic began last year.
Britain also recorded its biggest daily jump in new coronavirus cases, with 62,322 infections reported in the past 24 hours.
It comes as England last night entered its third national lockdown as the government scrambles to contain a new coronavirus mutation sweeping across the country.
Restrictions are expected to stay in place until at least mid-February, with the Prime Minister today suggesting they could be extended until the end of March.
Speaking in the Commons this morning, Boris Johnson said England’s “emergence from the cocoon will not be a big bang, but a gradual unravelling”.
“Not because we expect the full national lockdown to continue until [31 March], but to allow a steady controlled, evidence-led move down through the tiers on a regional basis,” he said, adding that measures will be relaxed “brick-by-brick, breaking free of our confinement but without risking our hard-won gains”.
Figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics showed that 1 in 50 people in the country are currently infected with coronavirus, with the figure rising to 1 in 30 in London.
The capital reported a further 193 Covid-related deaths in the past 24 hours, coming close to a record of 231 daily deaths in early April.