‘Extreme concern’: UK reports record 53,000 Covid-19 cases as experts warn of ‘dangerous new phase’ in pandemic

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The UK reported 53,135 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily total of the entire pandemic, as the country braces for the tightening of health measures in a renewed effort to stem the rising tide of infections.

There were also a further 414 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive test for the virus, compared to 357 on Monday, according to official government data.

On Monday, the UK reported 41,385 new infections, the country’s previous 24-hour high of the pandemic.

“We are continuing to see unprecedented levels of Covid-19 infection across the UK, which is of extreme concern – particularly as our hospitals are at their most vulnerable,” senior medical adviser for Public Health England, Dr. Susan Hopkins said.

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“Whilst the number of cases reported today include some from over the festive period, these figures are largely a reflection of a real increase.”

Health experts believe that the surge in Covid-19 cases is in part due to a new more easily transmissible variant of the virus, one of two news strains recently discovered in the UK.

Hospitals in England and Wales are now treating more Covid-19 patients than during the initial peak of the virus in April, while there are reports that the UK’s temporary ‘Nightingale’ hospitals are being dismantled.

The UK is “entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic,” according to Professor Andrew Hayward of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG).

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Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he urged the government to impose stricter measures in order to prevent a “catastrophe in January and February.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce any changes to the UK’s coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, with more areas likely to enter the strictest ‘Tier 4’ measures, while there are rumours of a new lockdown-like ‘Tier 5’.

In total, the UK has recorded 2,382,865 Covid-19 cases and 71,567 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

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