The UK has recorded a further 28,507 daily cases of coronavirus and 489 more deaths.
Today’s figures are slightly down on yesterday – when 35,383 cases and 532 deaths were recorded – but the case tally was inflated by delays in reporting infections in Wales.
Last Friday there were 21,672 positve test results and 424 deaths.
It means the UK is likely to record 2,000,000 cases tomorrow or on Sunday. A total of 1,977,167 have now been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
There have now been 66,541 deaths of people who died within 28 days of a positive test result.
Discounting yesterday’s figures – which included an extra 11,000 cases from Wales – today’s infection tally is the highest since the peak of the second wave on November 12. There were 33,470 new cases that day.
Of the new cases recorded today 24,452 were in England, 510 in Northern Ireland, 744 in Scotland and 2,801 in Wales. Scotland saw 36 deaths, Northern Ireland saw 12, England 403 and Wales 38.
NHS England, which tracks deaths in hospitals only, recorded a further 317 deaths in this setting. There took place between November 4 and December 17, with the majority in the last three days.
It comes as Boris Johnson refused to rule out a third nationwide lockdown as the outbreak threatens to overwhelm the NHS again.
The Prime Minister was asked on a visit to Greater Manchester whether England would follow Northern Ireland in imposing tough restrictions after the festive period.
He said: ‘We’re hoping very much that we will be able to avoid anything like that.
‘But the reality is that the rates of infection have increased very much in the last few weeks.’
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