Another 33,470 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours – the highest figure recorded since the pandemic began, according to government figures.
The total number of cases in the UK has now risen to 1,290,195.
Thursday’s figure is a 45.8 per cent increase on Wednesday’s figures, when 22,950 people tested positive.
The Government said a further 563 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday.This brings the UK total to 50,928.
In a statement on the surge in the number of cases the Department of Health and Social Care said: “As we have seen throughout this pandemic, there can be daily fluctuations in data so it is important to avoid drawing conclusions from one day’s figures.
“We must instead focus on the wider trend which is increasing, particularly in those at highest risk of disease.
“There was a rise in infections prior to national restrictions being brought in place and it is vital everyone continues to follow the guidance and takes care to wash hands, wear face coverings and reduce social contact – all of which proved to be highly effective in bringing down transmission rates earlier this year.”
Experts have previously warned against describing the daily figure as a record, as it is not clear how many people were actually infected during the height of the first wave, due to a lack of community testing at the time.
NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis said there were now more than 12,700 people in hospital with coronavirus in England – up from 3,827 one month ago.
He told the Downing Street press conference on Thursday: “That number will unfortunately continue to rise if infection rates continue to increase in our communities.
“Sadly while treatments and therapies have indeed improved, more infections inevitably also mean more deaths and more people suffering from the debilitating effects of long Covid.”
He stressed that despite positive vaccine news it was “vital” to continue to follow the ‘hands, face and space’ guidance – and urged everyone with symptoms to get tested.
“Both these measures will slow the growth in infections that will inevitably lead to increased hospital admissions and sadly increased deaths.
“There is hope on the horizon with a vaccine, and of course that is welcome news, but the vaccine is not here yet and it will not help us in this second wave if infections continue to rise.”
The UK is the first European nation to record more than 50,000 coronavirus deaths.