COVID-19: UK records 598 more coronavirus deaths - highest daily figure since early May

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The UK has recorded another 598 coronavirus deaths in the latest 24-hour period - the highest daily number of fatalities since 6 May, government figures show.

It means that during the pandemic a total of 52,745 people in the country have died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19.

Separate figures from the UK's statistics agencies for fatalities where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate show there have been 68,000 deaths involving the virus.

On Tuesday, it was also announced there have been a further 20,051 coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections in the UK to 1,410,732.

On Monday, there were 21,363 people who tested positive for coronavirus and 213 fatalities.

England is in the middle of a national lockdown, and in Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has put 11 areas into the highest band of measures for the first time since introducing a regional system of restrictions.

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The areas will enter Level 4 of the country's COVID-19 measures for three weeks from 6pm on Friday, Ms Sturgeon announced during a statement in the Scottish parliament.

Wales has come out of its temporary "fire breaker" but is still banning most social mixing in people's homes, and Northern Ireland has extended its "circuit breaker" so stricter limits remain on what businesses can open.

Earlier, it was revealed that weekly coronavirus deaths have climbed by 1,937 in England and Wales - a 40% increase on the previous rise and the second week in a row that the total has reached four figures.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS), which counts death certificates where COVID-19 is mentioned, has reported a rise of 558 (40.5%) on the previous seven days - when the figure stood at 1,379.

A COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by Christmas, with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - which developers announced was 90% effective after stage three trials - set to be given to the most vulnerable people in the UK before the end of the year.

Forty million doses of the vaccine have been ordered by the British government, with the prime minister saying this will vaccinate one-third of the population.

And the Moderna vaccine, which is showing nearly 95% protection in early data, will provide five million doses to the UK from next spring if it is successful.

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