The number of new daily confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK has topped 60,000 for the first time since the pandemic started.
According to government figures on Tuesday, the number of people who have tested positive was 60,916.
A further 830 people have died within 28 days of a positive test, up from 407 on Monday.
It comes as England and Scotland announced new lockdowns, with people told to stay at home.
At a press conference at Downing Street on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said 1.3 million people had now been vaccinated in the UK.
He said 23% of people aged over 80 – some 650,000 people – in England had now had the vaccine.
Mr Johnson was joined by the government’s chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Mr Whitty said data showed an estimated one in 50 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between 27 December and 2 January – “really quite a large number indeed”.
The number of new daily cases has consistently been above 50,000 since 29 December.
Back in the first peak of the pandemic in the spring, the number of daily confirmed cases never went over 7,000.
However, it is thought the true number of cases then was much higher but not picked up because testing capacity was limited. It was estimated that there were about 100,000 new infections a day at the end of March – but there was not the testing to detect it.
After seven consecutive days of more than 50,000 cases being confirmed, the fact that more than 60,000 have been recorded should not come as a surprise.
It will take a week, if not more, for the impact of lockdown to be felt.
And all the evidence suggests the new variant of coronavirus, which is more transmissible than previous ones, means the impact is likely to be more limited than it was in previous ones.
The figures are also a warning about what the NHS is facing.
Some of this week’s infections are next week’s hospital admissions.
About three in 10 beds are now occupied by Covid patients. In some hospitals more than six in 10 are.
Hospitals are now busy making more spaces on their wards – that means cancelling planned work, including in some places cancer treatment.
Tuesday’s new figures bring the total number of cases in the UK to 2,774,479.
In a statement after the case numbers were released, Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle said the rapid rise in cases was “highly concerning and will sadly mean yet more pressure on our health services in the depths of winter”.
“That is why if we can, we must stay at home, reduce contacts and do everything possible to break the spread of this virus.
“It is by no means easy, but now more than ever we must all do our part to protect the NHS and save lives.”
Although the new variant is now spreading more rapidly than the original version, it is not believed to be more deadly.
On Monday the UK’s chief medical officers recommended the Covid threat level be increased to five – its highest level.
Boris Johnson and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also both announced new lockdowns on Monday.
Wales has been in a national lockdown since 20 December and Northern Ireland entered a six-week lockdown on 26 December.
Hospitals are continuing to struggle with high numbers of hospital admissions – with some hospitals saying they are treating more Covid patients than in the first wave.
A “critical” incident has been declared at a hospital in Lincolnshire after a sharp rise in patients requiring admission.
And potentially life-saving cancer operations have been put on hold at a major London NHS trust because of the number of beds taken by Covid patients.
However, Cancer Research UK said such cancellations did not appear to be widespread across the country.