The UK has recorded another 36,804 confirmed cases of coronavirus – the highest daily increase since the pandemic began.
It comes after 33,364 cases recorded on Monday and also tops 35,928 on Sunday, which was itself a record.
Another 691 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test have also been recorded, government data shows – the highest for nearly a month.
That represents a rise from 215 deaths reported on Monday, and more than double Sunday’s figure of 326.
Generally, numbers are lower at the weekend and just after it.
There have now been a total of 2,110,314 coronavirus cases in the UK, and 68,307 related deaths.
But the latter figure rises to 79,349 when taking into account all fatalities with COVID-19 recorded on the death certificate.
The recent surge in cases has been largely blamed on a new and more contagious variant of the virus, known as VUI-202012/01.
Thought to have originated in either London or Kent in September, the new variant is also behind moves to introduce tougher restrictions across most of the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the rapidly spreading variant could be up to 70% more transmissible, but there is no evidence it is more deadly or leads to more serious infections.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “out of control” on Sunday and expressed concern about growing pressure on the NHS.
Researchers confirmed on Tuesday that it has spread throughout the UK, with cases found in Wales and Scotland.
The COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium sampled cases across Britain and found the variant in the South West, Midlands and North of England, meaning it is present even in places under Tier 2 and 3 restrictions.
The head of the company rolling out a coronavirus vaccine in the UK, has said “it is highly likely” the Pfizer/BioNTech jab will work on the new variant.
Ugur Sahin said, however, that more tests were needed to confirm its efficacy.
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