A further 189 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the UK death toll to 44,347.
The country has also recorded 21,242 new cases in the past 24 hours, meaning 810,467 people have tested positive since the pandemic first hit.
The latest Government figures show there were 6,018 Covid-19 patients in hospital in England on Wednesday – up from 4,156 a week ago. Meanwhile, 571 people were on ventilation beds – an increase from 468.
A total of 861 patients with confirmed Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in England on Monday compared with 664 a week earlier.
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The Government’s chief scientific adviser warned the UK could be seeing as many as 90,000 new cases a day less than an hour before the Department of Health and Social Care released the new figures today.
Sir Patrick Vallance said between 53 000 and 90,000 daily infections may be occurring during a press conference on Thursday afternoon. He stressed the need to quash the outbreak and avoid placing pressure on the NHS which will impact treatment for non-coronavirus conditions including cancer.
Confirming the R value was ‘about half’ of its natural number, he added: ‘As long as R is above one, the epidemic continues to grow and it will continue to grow at a reasonable rate. It is doubling perhaps every 14 to 18 days, unless the R comes below one.’
It comes as NHS workers battling the second wave say they are exhausted and disheartened to see people ignoring the rules.
Nadine McStein, ward manager at Whiston Hospital in Knowsley in Merseyside, said staff had been powered by adrenaline during the first wave – but the virus had ‘come back and hit us with a vengeance’.
She said: ‘Staff are exhausted, they’re tired, they’re run down. They soldier on, there’s a great sense of camaraderie amongst all the staff within the hospital.’
Ms McStein added she felt coronavirus was now ‘unrelatable’ for the general public.
She said: ‘I don’t think they appreciate the extent of what the NHS is going through and I think it’s disheartening to see people protesting and people going against the rules and regulations because we are definitely seeing the impact that’s having on people now.’
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced some major changes to the Job Support Scheme on Thursday to help businesses affected by lockdown restrictions.
Meanwhile, Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will be moved up to tier two restrictions, while Britons travelling to Spain’s Canary Islands, Denmark, the Greek island of Mykonos, and the Maldives will no longer need to self-isolate upon return.
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