The UK has recorded 26,668 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours – comfortably its highest ever number.
Another 191 people have also died with Covid-19 – meaning the UK narrowly missed recording a second day in a row of more than 200 fatalities.
The latest figures also show Scotland recorded its highest number of deaths since mid-May. That brings the UK’s death toll to 44,158, and the total number of cases to 789,229.
Yesterday’s case figure of 21,331 was the second highest daily total ever. The only other day when the numbers were higher was October 4, with 22,961 new cases – almost 5,000 less than today. However, testing capacity has increased significantly since March, meaning it is difficult to reliably compare case numbers.
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Meanwhile, the last time the country recorded more than 200 deaths before yesterday was 20 weeks ago, on June 5.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 59,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
It comes as more areas across England brace themselves for entering tier three restrictions.
South Yorkshire is set to be placed under the ‘very high’ alert level this weekend, with announcements about other regions also expected.
Earlier on Thursday, NHS England said a further 94 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 have died in hospital in the country, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths in the setting to 31,275.
Patients were aged between 49 and 97. All but one, aged 71, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths were between October 14 and 20.
Nine other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
Elsewhere, Scotland recorded a further 28 deaths of people with coronavirus and 1,739 positive tests in the past 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon said – the highest number of fatalities since May 21.
The First Minister told the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – has risen to 2,653.
The figures are lower than the 4,376 deaths given earlier by the National Records of Scotland as they do not include suspected and probable coronavirus infections.
Ms Sturgeon said 50,903 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 49,164 on Monday.
There have also been a further 962 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 38,361.
Public Health Wales said 14 further deaths had been reported, meaning the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic now stands at 1,736.
In Northern Ireland, there have been five further Covid-19 linked deaths reported in the last 24-hour reporting period and 1,039 new cases, the Department of Health has announced.
The death toll recorded by the department now stands at 629, with 29,992 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, pubs and restaurants have been told to stay closed for another two weeks in Scotland.
But gyms in Liverpool, under the harshest restrictions in the three tier system, were told they could reopen.
Elsewhere, 12 footballers in England were fined £200 each for breaking Covid-19 restrictions in a pub, as it emerged that around 400,000 children have been missing school amid the crisis.
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