The UK has recorded its deadliest day from coronavirus so far, with 1,610 deaths recorded on Tuesday.
It comes as the number of new infections fell, showing early signs that lockdown restrictions are working, with confirmed coronavirus cases within 24 hours dropping to 33,355 – down from 38,598 cases on Sunday, and 37,535 on Monday.
Official data showed one in eight people in England – around 5.4 million – had already had Covid by December last year, with experts claiming the disease was “much more widespread than previously realised”.
A further 1,610 people died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid test, Public Health England (PHE) confirmed. This is the biggest figure reported in a single day since the pandemic began.
After the latest coronavirus death figures were released, Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted: “The UK has faced the deepest recession of any major economy, and now we have the highest daily death rate in the world. The British people are paying the price for the government’s serial incompetence.”
His concern was echoed by shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, who tweeted: “Awful. Horrific. Devastating. And it didn’t have to be like this.”
On Tuesday Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that lockdown in the country would be extended to mid-February despite signs cases have flattened off. The first minister said she was being “cautious” and more evidence was needed that the outbreak was on a “downward trajectory”.
In Northern Ireland, there have been 713 further cases and 24 further deaths. The number of new cases is down sharply on the total for last Tuesday (1,205), but today’s deaths total is marginally higher than last Tuesday’s (22).
The number of registered deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales doubled in a week, following delayed registrations over the Christmas period, figures showed.
There were 17,751 deaths from all causes registered in the week ending 8 January – a “sharp increase” from the previous seven days, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Of these, 6,057 mentioned “novel coronavirus” on the death certificate – up 92.7% from the previous week. There was also a 71.4% rise in registered deaths involving Covid-19 in care homes – from 560 registered in the week ending 1 January to 960 in the week up to 8 January.
The ONS said the figures should be interpreted with caution as the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day bank holidays will have affected numbers previously registered.
Nuffield Trust deputy director of research, Sarah Scobie, said that while part of the rise can be explained by delayed registrations over Christmas, the numbers are still heading in a “worrying direction”.
She said: “We may not see a jump like this next week, but there will be further increases in these tragic numbers as the surge in cases from December translates into some people becoming very unwell, and in some cases unfortunately dying.
“We are beginning to see a welcome fall in the number of cases now due in part to the third national lockdown – we’ll need to wait a few weeks to see this begin to pull mortality figures down.”
The figures show that more than 106,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now occurred in the UK. A total of 99,813 deaths have so far been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, according to the latest reports from the UK’s statistics agencies.
PHE also said 4,266,577 people in the UK have received the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 204,076 on Monday’s figures.