The UK has recorded the highest number of positive coronavirus infections since the pandemic began amid fears Christmas and new strains of the virus could see patient numbers spiral.
On Saturday, statistics revealed that a further 57,725 new cases had been detected over the course of 24 hours – the highest recorded number in a single day.
The new figure pushes the UK’s overall recorded infections to 2,599,789 since the pandemic began.
While the death toll has also claimed another 445 to a total of 74,570 deaths – with those who die within 28 days of testing positive with the Covid-19 virus recorded in the figures.
The daily death toll has increased by 93 per cent since the 230 fatalities recorded last Saturday, on Boxing Day.
The Mirror reports: "This has been one of Britain's worst weeks of the pandemic, with the country setting a second wave record for daily deaths – 981 on Wednesday – and new all-time highs for confirmed cases in a single 24-hour period."
On New Year's Eve, 55,892 confirmed cases were reported in the UK, after 53,135 had been recorded on Tuesday.
While the distressing figures come as medical experts warn infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths will get worse in the coming weeks.
President of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Andrew Goddard, warned BBC News on Saturday that the combination of new strains of the virus and people breaching lockdown to celebrate Christmas could lead to higher infection rates and hospitalisations.
He said: “There's no doubt that Christmas is going to have a big impact, the new variant is also going to have a big impact.
“We know that is more infectious, more transmissible, so I think the large numbers that we're seeing in the South East, in London, in South Wales, is now going to be reflected over the next month, two months even, over the rest of the country.”
He added: “This new variant is definitely more infectious and is spreading across the whole of the country.
"It seems very likely that we are going to see more and more cases, wherever people work in the UK, and we need to be prepared for that.”
New strains of the Covid-19 virus were recorded at the tail end of 2020 – with experts fearing they would be more contagious, but not more deadly.
While hopes of defeating the virus were raised this week when the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in the UK.
With the treatment cheaper and easier to store than the Pfizer vaccines, it is hoped two million people per week can be vaccinates using the UK grown vaccine.
In the past month, one million people living in the UK have been treated with the vaccine which will hopefully lead to the defeat of the virus, a return to normal life, and an end to lockdowns.