COVID deaths in the UK today rose by 598 in the biggest 24-hour jump in six months.
Cases hit 1.4million as another 20,051 people tested positive for coronavirus.
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Today's death toll is the highest since May 12, over six months ago – when the daily figure reached 614.
But while case numbers seem to be flattening, the 20,052 figure today pushed Britain's case total over the 1.4 million mark.
And with nearly 600 additional deaths in the last 24 hours, the total death toll stands at 52,745.
This time last week – November 10 – 532 deaths and 20,412 cases were reported.
In England, a further 330 people died in hospital – one of them a 30-year-old with no underlying health conditions. Patients were aged between 27 and 99.
Hardest-hit was the north-west, where 87 people lost their lives, followed by the Midlands, with 86 deaths, and the north-east and Yorkshire, with 63 fatalities.
Another 24 deaths were recorded in London, 29 in the east of England, 22 in the south-east and 19 in the south-west.
In Scotland – where nearly two million will go into strict new lockdowns, with pubs shutting but schools staying open – 1,248 new cases were reported, and 37 people died.
Another nine people have died in Northern Ireland, with 549 new cases.
And in Wales, which emerged from a firebreak lockdown just over a week ago, 705 new infections were confirmed and 34 casualties died.
It comes as:
- A nationwide ban of households mixing could be on the cards to save Christmas
- Matt Hancock has refused to rule out making a Covid vaccine mandatory for Brits
- Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak will slash the UK's foreign aid budget to help bolster the economy during coronavirus
- An NHS nurse has been suspended after posting virus conspiracy theories on Facebook
- The Moderna Covid vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective – but the UK won't get the jab until spring at the earliest after backing Pfizer
Although the UK's death toll remains tragically high, there's hope new cases are slowing – which medics hope will bring fatalities down.
Yesterday, we revealed Covid cases had risen by just 0.06 per cent in a week.
However, as of Monday, the number of deaths was up by 9.8 per cent.
And Matt Hancock has hinted England's second national lockdown may not end, as planned, on December 2.
In a blow to Brits, the Health Secretary fuelled fears of a ruined Christmas when he said it was "too early to know" if the current restrictions have worked.
Mr Hancock hinted the next week will be crucial, as cases should start to fall if "lockdown is working".
And there's more bad news – after Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested buying alcohol could be banned after 9pm in England after the shutdown lifts.
He said local lockdown tiers could be ramped up in December – and could even include a ban on buying booze from off-licenses.
But experts have hit back at the gloomy politicians – and say new cases "flatlined" a fortnight ago.
Data revealed that cases of the virus are starting to fall in the UK according to the latest data from the Covid Symptom App.
Professor Carl Heneghan, director of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, said hospitals are not being overwhelmed and that they are running at “normal” capacity for this time of year.
The UK's top statistician, Sir Ian Diamond, agreed that data shows "slowdown in the rate of growth" – which is "good news."
The head of the Office for National Statistics said: "The good news is – yes – we are seeing a slow down in the rate of growth.
"That means we're still increasing and we are now in England at 1.25 per 1,000. That means that one in 85 people in England, we believe, have the virus.
"In Wales, a little less at one in 100, in Scotland one in 135 and Northern Ireland one in 105."
The most recent stats, which take in the week to November 12, show that most areas of England – 238 out of 315 – are continuing to see a rise in cases.
Hull has the highest rate in England, with 2,017 new cases recorded – the equivalent of 776.4 cases per 100,000 people.
That's a rise from 686 cases per 100,000 in the week to November 5.
Oldham has the second highest rate. However, cases per 100,000 in the large town have dropped dramatically from 800.5 to 598.0.
There's also good news for Blackburn with Darwen, which is in third place and has seen the rate drop from 737.5 to 597.2.
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