UK Covid cases have risen by 32 per cent in a week with 28,507 new infections in the last 24 hours.
There have been a further 489 deaths, taking the grim toll up to 66,541.
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Scotland has recorded 36 deaths from coronavirus and 744 positive tests in the past 24 hours. This brings the death toll there to 4,239.
And there has been a further 2,801 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 117,367.
Public Health Wales reported another 38 deaths, with the country's toll now up to 3,011.
Yesterday saw a rise of 35,383 people testing positive, because around 11,000 previously unreported cases in Wales were added on.
Boris Johnson today refused to rule out a third national lockdown after Christmas – and warned that the Covid infection rate was growing.
It comes as
- The ONS estimated around 567,300 people in England had COVID-19 last week compared to 481,500 the previous week
- Boris Johnson warned people to isolate from today if they wanted to see family at Christmas next week
- Despite England's four-week national lockdown ending only a fortnight ago, positive cases reached another 35,000 yesterday
- Just North Somerset, Bristol and Herefordshire went down a Tier, despite hopes that Manchester, Leeds and parts of Birmingham might be able to be moved thanks to a crackdown on their cases
- Matt Hancock warned everyone in Kent to act as if they had coronavirus and stay away from others
The PM said he "hoped" that England would not have to shut down once again – after Northern Ireland joined Wales in saying it would shut down from Boxing Day onwards.
The PM’s spokesman said yesterday: “As we’ve said throughout, we will obviously keep the latest data and the latest trends under review.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is understood to be considering additional curbs, including closing non-essential shops if mass testing fails to make an impact, The Times reported.
A Whitehall official told the paper: “There is a case for going further than Tier 3 and it is getting stronger."
Northern Ireland is set to go into a six week lockdown from Boxing Day, it was confirmed today.
In some of the harshest rules seen yet, supermarkets will be forced to close by 8pm.
Wales will also go into lockdown after Christmas, with shops shut, a stay at home order introduced, and people told not to mix.
Scotland hasn't ruled it out, but has not announced any plans yet.
An interactive map has revealed the parts of the UK that are at risk of becoming Covid hotspots by the New Year.
Swathes of the South East, including London, could be recording at least 500 cases per 100,000 in January, scientists predict.
Currently the UK has an average case rate of 200 cases per 100,000 people, official data shows.
This is likely to soar after Christmas, when families from across the UK have been granted the chance to celebrate together for five days.
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