The UK recorded its highest number of COVID-related deaths since mid-April, and the highest daily increase in virus cases.
The government figures reported on Wednesday afternoon showed another 1,041 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus. This is the 10th time since the pandemic began that the daily number of deaths has been above 1,000, Sky News reported.
The figure was a significant increase from the 830 deaths reported on Tuesday, with both days likely to contain some deaths that took place over the Christmas and New Year period that have only just been reported.
There were also another 62,322 cases reported, an increase from Tuesday’s 60,916 cases.
It brings the total number of test-confirmed cases in the UK to 2,836,801.
It was also reported on Wednesday that the number of COVID patients in UK hospital, as of Monday, has passed 30,000 for the first time – reaching 30,451.
This includes 26,626 patients in England, 1,966 in Wales, 1,282 in Scotland and 577 in Northern Ireland.
As of Tuesday, 2,645 hospital patients were on ventilators.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the public that the easing of England’s third national lockdown will be a “gradual unwrapping” and not a “big bang”.
The prime minister told MPs earlier that the government will use “every available second” of the current shutdown to place an “invisible shield” around elderly and vulnerable people through the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
The locations of seven mass vaccination centres were revealed by the government, along with plans to open them next week.
Wednesday’s figures also show that 5,085 people died between December 24 and January 1, all of whom had tested positive for COVID-19 within 28 days of their death.
The full death toll for this period, which includes everyone who had COVID-19 recorded on their death certificate, will not be known until later in January.