The daily number of coronavirus deaths has reached 1,820, the highest since the pandemic began.
The number of new cases rose sharply to 38,905, after initially falling earlier in the week, which prompted hopes that lockdown restrictions were working.
For the second day in a row, the UK recorded the biggest increase in Covid-19 deaths within 28 days of testing positive, up on Tuesday’s high of 1,610. The number of new coronavirus cases within 24 hours dropped to 33,355 on Tuesday.
Boris Johnson said the record daily death toll was “appalling” and warned “there will be more to come”. The prime minister said: “These figures are appalling, and of course we think of the suffering that each one of those deaths represents to their families and to their friends. I’ve got to tell you … there will be more to come”. He said that the new variant was now in virtually all parts of the UK. “It’s true that it looks as though the rates of infection in the country overall may now be peaking or flattening but they’re not flattening very fast and it’s clear that we must keep a grip on this. We must maintain discipline, formation, keep observing the lockdown.”
Upon news of the latest death figures, palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke tweeted: “Another 1820 UK Covid deaths. This figure makes me want to weep, scream, punch a wall, smash furniture. As if the deaths alone weren’t devastating, knowing many were avoidable crushes me. These are mass casualties caused by the failure of government. Heartbreaking.”
The home secretary, Priti Patel, was asked on Good Morning Britain about why the UK had the worst death rate in the world from coronavirus. She replied that it “has to be put into context” and she did not think there was one simple “factor or cause as to why so many people have died in the UK”.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have been 110,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
Government data up to 19 January shows that of the 5,070,365 vaccinations that have been given in the UK so far, 4,609,740 were first doses – a rise of 343,163 on the previous day’s figures – while 460,625 were second doses, an increase of 3,759 on figures released the previous day.
The seven-day rolling average of first doses given in the UK is now 281,490. Based on the latest figures, an average of 399,625 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day in order to meet the government’s target of 15m first doses by 15 February.
As few as 20% of staff in some care homes have received a coronavirus vaccine, the NHS national clinical director for older people has said.
Dr Adrian Hayter said those involved in the vaccination programme must do “better and more” to ensure care home staff got a jab as soon as possible.
While some care homes have seen 70-80% of their staff vaccinated, which he called “fantastic”, others have rates as low as 20%. Overall 45% of care home staff had received a jab, he said.
Hayter acknowledged there had been delays and that some care homes had found the process difficult.
The latest figures bring the total number of cases in the UK to 3,505,754.