Britain has reported 33,470 new cases of COVID-19, its highest daily total to date, as the government struggles to control a second wave of infections going into the winter.
The death toll in Britain is higher than the other worst-affected countries in Europe and the number of people killed by coronavirus is only higher in the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.
England’s National Health Service medical director Stephen Powis indicated that hospitals are struggling to cope with rising infection rates.
“It is clear that infection rates have been going up and what is really important is to get those infection rates down – that is what will reduce deaths [and] the pressure on hospitals,” Mr Powis said.
Thursday’s data on the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 were not immediately available.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered England back into a month-long lockdown amid concerns that a rising number of infections could overwhelm the health service.
The government has been criticised by political opponents for moving too slowly into the two country-wide lockdowns, for a shortage of personal protective equipment and for failing to protect the elderly in care homes.
The number of infections rose sharply in October with double the number of cases reported by the end of the month compared to the beginning ahead of the reintroduction of the latest lockdown, a study said on Thursday.
But Britain’s testing capacity has also grown since the peak of the first wave of the virus earlier in 2020, when the government decided to abandon testing of most people who did not require hospitalisation.