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UK records highest daily surge of cases as ‘serious concern’ grows over new covid strain

Tier 4: Matt Hancock on chances of restrictions being lifted

Offical data has shown the number of COVID-19 cases in Britain surged by the highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic. There were also 326 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, lower than the 534 recorded on Saturday. The Government has toughened restrictions in London and southeast England to try to curb the spread of a new, fast-spreading variant of the virus

The figures were recorded for the seven days to December 16 and are based on tests carried out in laboratories (pillar one of the Government’s testing programme) and in the wider community (pillar two).

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said the “sharp and sudden increase” in new cases on Sunday was of “serious concern”.

She said: “Most of the new cases reported today are concentrated in London and the South East, although it is too early to tell if this is linked to the new variant.

“What we do know is that the way to control this virus is the same, whatever the variant.

“It simply will not spread if we avoid close contact with others.”

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It comes as figures from PA also revealed the latest week coronavirus rates for local authority areas in England.

Of the 315 local areas in England, 285 (90 percent) have seen a rise in case rates, 29 (9 percent) have seen a fall and one remains unchanged.

Thurrock has the highest rate in the country after seeing the largest week-on-week jump in England, with 1,841 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 16 – the equivalent of 1,056.0 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from 387.2 in the seven days to December 9.

Havering in London has the second highest rate, up from 513.6 to 1,021.8, with 2,652 new cases.

Basildon in Essex is in third place, where the rate has risen from 619.7 to 995.2, with 1,863 new cases.

All these areas are in the new Tier 4 announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday.

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