There were a further 59,937 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, down from 68,053 the day before, which was the highest figure reported in a single day since the start of mass testing last May.
The number of daily infections has continued to surge over recent days – cases were as high as 100,000 per day at the peak of the first wave of the virus in April.
A further 1,325 people had died from COVID-19 within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, increasing the UK total to 79,833.
The latest figure is slightly down from from Friday’s record toll of 1,325 new deaths.
Seperate figures publlished by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where COVID-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, along with additional datqa on deaths that have occurred recently, revealed there have now been 95,000 deaths involving coronavirus in the UK.
The latest figures come aas scientists warn the current national lockdown needs to be toughened even further to have a similar impact on case numbers compared to the lockdown in March.
Experts have warned the new and more infectious strain of COVID-19, together with the winter season, requires stricter measures than the ones already in place for England.
Professor Robert West, a participant in the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), warned the current lockdown restrictions imposed last week are “still allowing a lot of activity which is spreading the virus”.
The professor of health psychology at University College London said he and other experts he has spoken with agree the rules should be tightened.
He told BBC News: “Because we have the more infectious variant, which is somewhere around 50 percent more infectious than last time round in March, that means that if we were to achieve the same result as we got in March we would have to have a stricter lockdown, and it’s not stricter.
“It’s actually less strict.”
Susan Michie, professor of health psychology at University College London, the lockdown rules currently in place are “too lax”.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is definitely too lax, because if you think about it and compare ourselves with March, what do we have now?
“We have the winter season and the virus survives longer in the cold, plus people spend more time indoors and we know aerosol transmission, which happens indoors, is a very big source of transmission for this virus.
“And secondly we have this new variant which is 50-70% more infectious. You put those two things together, alongside the NHS being in crisis, we should have a stricter rather than less strict lockdown than we had back in March.”
This is a breaking story. More to follow….