Coronavirus deaths in the UK have grown by 357 as a staggering 41,385 new infections were recorded in the past 24 hours, as the country struggles with a new mutant strain of the virus.
The number of people who have now died in Britain from COVID-19 is 71,109, compared to 909 in Australia as of December 29.
Last Monday, 33,363 people tested positive for coronavirus. Overall, a total of 2,329,730 have now tested positive for coronavirus in the UK since the start of the pandemic.
It comes as the nation could be thrown into a “Tier 5” lockdown with even harsher restrictions than the November lockdown, The Sun reports.
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As of Monday (December 28) the rise in infections is larger than it was the day before, when 34,693 new infections were logged.
And the number of deaths recorded yesterday is bigger than it was on Sunday, when 316 fatalities were confirmed.
Yesterday’s figures don’t include the death toll or cases from Northern Ireland or Scotland.
This means the true death toll will likely jump on December 29 when the figures are updated as Scotland and Northern Ireland are not reporting them over the Christmas period.
In England, a further 318 people aged between 38 and 100 died in hospital over the last 24 hours. All but 13 had underlying health conditions.
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The Midlands saw the most deaths with 68 fatalities occurring.
A further 15 deaths and 2273 infections were recorded in Wales in the past 24 hours.
Government scientists have reportedly told UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson he needs to implement stricter measures to stop the virus from spiralling out of control.
There is no suggestion it would be called “Tier 5”, but the measures that are being called for go further than the current Tier 4 ones.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has told the PM that because of the new faster-spreading variant of the virus, the R-rate would surge above 1 in January, it has been reported. The R-rate, or reproduction rate, is the number of people each infected person subsequently infects. In the UK it has been hovering just under 1.
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Experts have told Mr Johnson that a New Year national lockdown similar to the one in November where schools remain open will not be enough.
They recommend even stronger measures where secondary schools are shut and pubs and non-essential shops remain closed, Politico reported.
SAGE has reportedly advised that the R-rate could be kept below 1 if all schools remained closed in January.
On Monday, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the Government is still set on staggering the reopening of schools as planned but warned of “trade-offs”.
He said the current plan was for primary school pupils, GCSE and A-level students and the children of essential workers to return to school next week, with other secondary school students returning the following week.
He told Times Radio: “We do keep things under review, and we’ll be talking to head teachers [principals] and teachers in the next 24, 48 hours just to make sure that our plans … are really robust.”
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“It is our intention to make sure we can get children back to school as early as possible. But we all know that there are trade-offs,” he added.
“As a country we have decided – and I think this is the right thing to do – that we prioritise children returning to school.
“But we have a new strain and it is also the case that we have also had, albeit in a very limited way, Christmas mixing, so we do have to remain vigilant.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission