The number of people who have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus has risen by 1,610 in 24 hours – the highest daily increase so far recorded during the pandemic.
It brings the total number of deaths in the UK to 91,470.
The latest figures, released on Tuesday afternoon, also show there were a further 33,355 lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK which brings the total number of positive tests in the UK to 3,466,849.
Most of the deaths announced today are backdated to previous days, with January 11 the deadliest day in the second wave so far. Here’s a primer on how to make sense of the daily updates published by the government.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth described the news as “horrific”.
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 now been 108,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, PHE’s medical director, said the country should be braced for further deaths and urged people to keep to the current social restrictions.
“Each death is a tragedy and the number of Covid-19 related deaths within 28 days of a positive test will continue for some time throughout this second wave,” she said.
“Whilst there are some early signs that show our sacrifices are working, we must continue to strictly abide by the measures in place. By reducing our contacts and staying at home we will see a fall in the number of infections over time.”
Meanwhile, a survey of more than 20,000 adults in the UK by the Office for National Statistics has revealed as many as one in eight people in England having had Covid-19 antibodies in December, meaning they had already had the virus.
Antibody data on infection in private households suggests that one in 10 in Wales had also been infected by December, alongside one in 13 in Northern Ireland and one in 11 in Scotland.
There was “substantial variation” between regions in England, with 17% of people in private households in Yorkshire and the Humber estimated to have tested positive for antibodies in December, compared with 5% in south-west England.
In London, the figure was 16% in December, up from 11% in October, while it was 15% in the north-west, up from 6% in October.
In the West Midlands, 14% have had Covid, up from 8% in October, while 8% in the south-east and the east of England have had the virus, both up from 5% in October.
Hancock, who was infected with coronavirus in March last year, said on Tuesday said he had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive.
“Last night I was pinged by the NHS coronavirus app, so that means I’ll be self-isolating at home, not leaving the house at all until Sunday,” Hancock said.
“This self-isolation is perhaps the most important part of all the social distancing because I know from the app I’ve been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive and this is how we break the chains of transmission.”