The highest daily number of UK coronavirus cases since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak recorded on Thursday is a "stark warning", public health officials have said.
A further 6,634 lab-confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number of cases confirmed now stands at 416,363.
Experts have warned against describing the daily figure as a record as a lack of community testing early in the outbreak means it is not clear how many people were actually infected during the first wave.
ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan said that due to limited testing back in spring, Thursday's figures were "not comparable", but added "there was still reason to be concerned".
ITV News Health Editor, Emily Morgan on the new figures"The latest rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the UK is worrying - it is indeed the largest daily case rate recorded since the start of the pandemic - but the number of cases recorded in March and those recorded on Thursday are not comparable.
"Back in March we were only testing for the virus in hospital settings, not the wider community as a whole. The best estimate for the number of daily cases at the height of the pandemic is around 100,000 a day, so we are nowhere near that yet."That said, there is still reason to be concerned. The R value (the speed at which the virus spreads) is between 1.1-1.4 so it is spreading and it does spread quickly. The Chief Scientific Advisor warned that if the virus continues to grow at the current rate we will see nearly 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and that is getting near March rates. "The key thing to watch over the next couple of weeks is whether the rise in cases is sustained and continues at the same rate. "I suspect the number of cases will continue in the same vain for the next few days because the Rule of Six and the new measures that were brought in this week, won't start taking an effect for a while.
"Then we must watch hospital admissions, how cases numbers translate into hospitalisations is crucial because sadly, that will no doubt mean an increase in deaths."
Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said the spike in infections was a "stark warning" as she urged the public to download the newly launched Test and Trace app to help bring the burgeoning second wave under control.
“This is the highest number recorded and a stark warning for us all. The signals are clear. Positivity rates are rising across all age groups and we’re continuing to see spikes in rates of admission to hospital and critical care," she said.
“We must all follow the new measures that have been bought in to help control the virus and download the new NHS Covid-19 App which is the fastest way of knowing when you’re at risk.”
Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said while science and medicine will help to lower the expected rise in deaths, the public must also play its part.
He said: “The rise in cases is yet further confirmation that the virus is spreading rapidly. This will result in increased pressure on hospitals, more serious illness and a rise in deaths which will bring tragedy.
“Scientific and medical advances will lower the toll. We all need to do our part.”
He added that while the latest daily cases figure is large, it is “only a fraction” of the cases in the early part of the pandemic.
“The fact that we will soon set a record of daily cases is because we did not measure in March,” he said.
A further 40 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday. This brings the UK total of coronavirus related deaths to 41,902.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,600 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.