Covid: UK records deadliest day of pandemic so far as death toll rises by 1,325

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent John Ray

The UK has reported its deadliest day of the pandemic so far after the government confirmed a further 1,325 deaths from Covid-19 on Friday.

The previous deadliest day of the pandemic was on April 21 during the peak of the first wave when 1,224 people died from coronavirus.

It brings the UK death toll to 79,833.There were also 68,053 new cases confirmed on Friday beating the previous record set on Wednesday by almost 6,000 cases.

The death figures continue to be affected by a lag in the publication of recent data and will contain some deaths that took place over the Christmas and New Year period that have only just been reported.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate show there have now been 95,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

The number of new cases and deaths have been rising for months but both have accelerated sharply since the start of the year with no sign of slowing down soon.

ITV News' Science Editor Tom Clarke said it has been difficult to compare the daily number of coronavirus cases and deaths from the government with the first wave as the UK was not testing as many people back in April - and it was limited to testing in hospitals.

He reports: "We don’t have an absolute figure but looking at the new data from the ONS, it looks like we now surpassed where we were, by the best estimates, in the first wave." 

He said the latest figures are "very worrying," before adding: "It’s mainly down to this new variant but remember, it’s not just the new variant." 

ITV News' Science Editor Tom Clarke also explains why the UK might be seeing more of an upward trend this year which is added on top of the winter pressures the NHS faces. 

He said: "We allowed case numbers to remain high during the latter part of the year - a combination of that, plus the winter crisis means we’re in a really serious situation. 

He continued: "One of the big concerns now is will the lockdown measures be enough to reduce it? 

"A senior government advisor today suggested it might not be enough - it might just be enough to hold it level. We really are waiting for that vaccine but it doesn’t mean we can sit around and do nothing."

He warned: "We need to work quite a bit harder now, with the lockdown, to get cases down, otherwise we’re going to see a lot more people going to hospital. Unfortunately, we’re going to see those cases continue to rise and deaths continue to track them, with something of a delay, for a couple of weeks at least."

The latest estimates say R could be as high as 1.4 in England and is above 1 in every region of the country.

An R of 1.4 means on average every 10 people who have Covid-19 will go on to infect 14 more people.

The rise in infections is in part due to the new much more contagious variant of Covid-19 that was detected last year.

Scientists have estimated the new variant could increase R by between 0.4 and 0.7.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the variant could account for 61% of new cases in England.

Credit: PA

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Friday Covid-19 cases were “out of control” and declared a major incident as hospitals in the capital struggled with the influx of patients.Mr Khan said that in some parts of the London one in 20 people has coronavirus – compared to the England average of one in 50 – while there are 35% more people in hospital with Covid-19 than at the peak of the pandemic in April.

The declaration of a major incident means that events are beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations and require special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agency.London’s regional director of Public Health England Professor Kevin Fenton said the situation now is the “biggest threat our city has faced in this pandemic to date”.

England was put back in lockdown on Monday. Credit: PA


There were 1,156 new deaths from Covid-19 in England on Friday, the highest number so far.

There were also 61,757 new cases of coronavirus in England, another new record.


There were 2,309 new cases of coronavirus in Scotland on Friday and a further 93 deaths.


There have been a further 2,487 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 165,721.

Public Health Wales reported another 56 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 3,857.

Northern Ireland

There were 1,500 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in Northern Ireland on Friday and a further 20 deaths.