Coronavirus infections have nearly doubled in the space of a week, the latest figures have shown.
Some 6,634 new cases were recorded on Thursday, the government announced.
This compares to 3,395 infections one week ago, and comes after Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned on Monday that the virus is doubling every seven days.
It also represents a rise of 456 on the 6,178 cases recorded on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the government said a further 40 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19. This was three more than recorded on Wednesday.
The latest figures come as a raft of new measures aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus came into force.
Guidelines for England now restrict pub and restaurant closing times to 10pm, tighten laws around the “rule of six” and enhance mask-wearing measures.
These latest rules have made it even harder for the already beleaguered hospitality industry to operate.
In response to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus and lockdown measures, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a plan to replace the furlough scheme on Thursday.
The new Jobs Support Scheme will see staff get 77% of their normal wages for at least six months as long as they are able to work at least some of their hours.
The scheme is aimed at supporting viable jobs and conceding some places of work will not survive the pandemic.
Almost three million workers are currently still furloughed – 12% of the UK’s workforce.
1/ The Job Support Scheme will directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses who face depressed winter demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours rather than making them redundant. pic.twitter.com/Gj4HRyvdUq
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) September 24, 2020
Meanwhile, the government finally launched the coronavirus contact tracing app in England and Wales on Thursday.
After months of delay, the app, featuring bluetooth contact tracing and inbuilt QR code scanning for pubs and restaurants, is another tool the government hopes can be used to combat the virus.
For the app to work, the government’s testing regime needs to be fully functional, but data released on Thursday suggested it is far from it.
Fewer than one in three (28.2%) people who had an in-person COVID-19 test in England received their result within 24 hours last week.
This was down from 33.3% the week before and 66.5% the week before that.
Boris Johnson had pledged that by the end of June, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.
New data released on Thursday also showed that 402,782 close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been reached through the system since the start of the Test and Trace programme.
This is 77.8% out of a total of 517,601 people identified as close contacts.
The remaining 114,819 people (22.2%) were identified as close contacts, but were not reached.
For the week ending 16 September, 74.7% of close contacts of people who tested positive for COVID-19 were reached through the system and asked to self-isolate.
This is down from 75.9% the previous week and below the 77.2% reached in the week to 19 August.