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Covid news – live: Government stands by December lockdown deadline as UK sees record rise in cases

Government figures put the number of fatalities at a slightly lower figure than the previous day’s figure of almost 600 – with the nationwide total now standing at 50,365 since the beginning of the UK’s outbreak.

Since January, when the first cases were observed on UK soil, 61,648 fatalities were recorded where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Meanwhile the latest case figures added 33,470 new infections to the nation’s total – the highest spike recorded across a 24 hour period in the UK so far.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,290,195 – however experts have previously cautioned against comparing the figures of the second wave to the first as testing facilities have become more advanced.

The number of deaths across the country had initially been delayed by an issue around reporting from officials in England.

Responding to the high number of coronavirus cases recorded on Thursday, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “As we have seen throughout this pandemic, there can be daily fluctuations in data so it is important to avoid drawing conclusions from one day’s figures.

“We must instead focus on the wider trend which is increasing, particularly in those at highest risk of disease.

“There was a rise in infections prior to national restrictions being brought in place and it is vital everyone continues to follow the guidance and takes care to wash hands, wear face coverings and reduce social contact – all of which proved to be highly effective in bringing down transmission rates earlier this year.”

It comes as the nation continues through its second period of lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of the virus and limit the strain placed on the nation’s hospitals.

Speaking at a Downing Street briefing, NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis said there were now more than 12,700 people in hospital with coronavirus in England – up from 3,827 one month ago.

“That number will unfortunately continue to rise if infection rates continue to increase in our communities,” he added.

“Sadly while treatments and therapies have indeed improved, more infections inevitably also mean more deaths and more people suffering from the debilitating effects of long Covid.”

He stressed that despite positive vaccine news it was “vital” to continue to follow the ‘hands, face and space’ guidance – and urged everyone with symptoms to get tested.

“Both these measures will slow the growth in infections that will inevitably lead to increased hospital admissions and sadly increased deaths.

“There is hope on the horizon with a vaccine, and of course that is welcome news, but the vaccine is not here yet and it will not help us in this second wave if infections continue to rise.”

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