'Extreme concern' as UK records highest daily rise in Covid cases since pandemic began
Video report by ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia
The UK has recorded its highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began with 53,135 positive tests.
The Department of Health also confirmed a further 414 people have died within 28 days of developing Covid-19, bringing the UK coronavirus death toll to 71,567.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show that more than 87,000 deaths involving coronavirus have now occurred in the UK.
The total number of coronavirus cases in the UK has now risen to nearly 2.4 million.
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But the figures for deaths and cases are likely to be higher as Scotland was not releasing death data between December 24 and 28, and Northern Ireland was not providing either case or death data over that same period.
The latest figures come as NHS leaders have warned of the rising pressure in hospitals and health experts have called for stricter restrictions in a bid to curb the rise in infections.
Dr Susan Hopkins, senior medical adviser for Public Health England, said the "unprecedented levels" of Covid-19 infection across the UK was of "extreme concern".
"Whilst the number of cases reported today include some from over the festive period, these figures are largely a reflection of a real increase," she said.
"It is essential, now more than ever, that we continue to work together to stop the spread of the virus, bring the rate of infection down and protect the most vulnerable and the NHS."
Hospitals across the country have said they are "at their most vulnerable" as coronavirus cases across the UK soared to a record daily high.
At Queen's Hospital in Romford, coronavirus patients are having to be treated outside in ambulances before entering the building.
A statement released by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, urged people to only contact ambulance services in the case of real emergencies.
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Magda Smith, the Trust’s chief medical officer, said: “London’s NHS is under significant pressure from high Covid-19 infection rates and non-Covid winter demands, with staff in all services going the extra mile and we are opening more beds to care for the most unwell patients.
“It is more important than ever that Londoners follow Government guidance and do everything possible to reduce transmission of the virus.”
A further 365 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 49,225, NHS England said on Tuesday.
Patients were aged between 26 and 101. All except 12, aged between 43 and 92, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths were between December 12 and 28.
There were 11 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
There have been a further 2,510 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 144,425.
Public Health Wales reported another 33 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 3,416.
Furthermore, a senior doctor has warned that "massive" numbers of coronavirus patients are filling Welsh hospitals and his colleagues are being "stretched to the limit".
It comes after a Welsh health board issued an urgent appeal for help to care for coronavirus patients in their critical care departments.
Scotland recorded seven deaths from coronavirus between December 25 and 29, Scottish Government figures have shown.
It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 4,467.
The Scottish Government noted that register offices have been closed over the public holidays.
The figures showed 1,895 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on December 29.
The latest statistics show 122,786 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 120,891 the previous day.
The daily test positivity rate is 14.4%, up from 12.2% on the previous day.
There are 1,092 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus and of these patients, 65 are in intensive care.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a "big number" of cases in Shetland is being "very closely" monitored, as are significant increases in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.
The First Minister said: "Right across Scotland the message is we really cannot be complacent in the face of the virus. That was always the case but it is particularly the case now that we’ve got this new faster spreading strain."
While the numbers of people in hospital and intensive care in Scotland is below peak levels in the spring, she said there is not "any room for complacency".
A further 14 people have died after contracting coronavirus in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has said.
In the last 24 hours, 13 deaths occurred - with one taking place outside of the reporting period - bringing the overall death toll to 1,305.
Another 1,566 people have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections to 68,762.
There are 462 patients with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland hospitals, with 34 in intensive care and 24 patients are on ventilators.