COVID-19: More than 70,000 people have now died with coronavirus in the UK

·2-min read

More than 70,000 people have now died with coronavirus in the UK after government figures showed a further 570 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID test were reported in England on Christmas Day.

The devolved nations will not be publishing data on fatalities today due to the holidays, so these are not being included in the figures.

However, they are continuing to publish data on cases - with 32,725 new confirmed infections recorded across the UK.

On Christmas Eve, the UK recorded its highest daily number of cases yet at 39,237.

The amount of testing has increased in the last week from around 400,000 per day to 500,000 per day, so this will account for some of the increase in cases - but not all of it.

The seven-day rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people is the highest it has been since the start of the pandemic, although again it is important to note that mass testing was not taking place during the first peak in April and May.

In the week ending 20 December, there were 344 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

Much of the rise in cases is being driven by the South East and East of England, where a new and more transmissible variant of the virus has been spreading.

Fears over the new strain have meant that millions were unable to visit loved ones for Christmas as those living in Tier 4 areas were not allowed to mix with other households.

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Boris Johnson was forced to axe plans to allow a five-day relaxation of restrictions over the festive period and move some areas into the highest level of measures as the impact of the faster-spreading variant became apparent.

More areas are being placed into Tier 4 at one minute past midnight on Boxing Day, while Scotland and Northern Ireland will be imposing new lockdowns on the same day.

Wales is also under tough restrictions and has eased them for Christmas Day only.