LONDON (Reuters) - Health minister Matt Hancock warned the United Kingdom was at a "perilous moment" as more than 17,540 new daily COVID-19 cases were recorded on Thursday, up by more than 3,000 from the day before.
A further 77 people died after testing positive for the virus within 28 days, government data showed while the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in England rose to 3,044 from 2,944 on Wednesday, the highest figure since June 22.
"We are seeing a definite and sustained increase in cases and admissions to hospital. The trend is clear, and it is very concerning," said Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director for Public Health England.
"Numbers of deaths from Covid-19 are also rising so we must continue to act to reduce transmission of this virus."
Many parts of northern England, Wales and Scotland have seen new tough restrictions on social interaction to try to curb the growing spread of the disease.
In a speech on Thursday, health minister Matt Hancock said he was very concerned about the rise in cases, adding that hospitalisations in northwest England were doubling every fortnight and had risen by 57% in the last week alone.
"We are at a perilous moment in the course of this pandemic. In parts of the country, the situation is again, becoming very serious," he said.
"Unfortunately, we are seeing hospitalisations of the over-60s rising sharply and the number of deaths from coronavirus also rising."
(Reporting by Michael Holden, Alistair Smout and Andy Bruce; editing by Kate Holton and William James)