The UK has announced its highest daily number of COVID-related deaths of the pandemic, with 1,325 fatalities.
Government figures also show the UK recorded 68,053 new coronavirus cases - the highest daily total of the pandemic so far.
It is important to note that this is the highest number of deaths reported in a single day, but deaths can occur days or weeks before they are announced.
If we look at the number of deaths that actually occurred in a single day, these were much higher during the first peak of the pandemic.
The latest death figures continue to be affected by a lag in the publication of some recent data and contain some deaths from over the Christmas and New Year period that have only just been reported.
Responding to the announcement, a spokesperson for Public Health England (PHE) said "we can expect the death toll to continue to rise until we stop the spread".
Dr William Welfare, director for the COVID-19 response at PHE, urged the public to stay at home where possible and warned that: "Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it."
It is now two weeks since Christmas Day, when experts warned the impact of household mixing over the festive period is most likely to be felt.
Four in 10 adults formed a bubble to celebrate Christmas Day, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest.
Earlier, a "major incident" was declared in London as growing infections have been putting "immense pressure on an already stretched NHS", according to City Hall.
There are currently 7,034 people in hospital with COVID-19 in the capital, 35% higher compared with the first peak of the pandemic.
An intensive care doctor also told Sky News that NHS staff are being "stretched to the absolute limit", urging families to stop mixing inside each other's homes.
However, there is better news on the horizon with the approval of a third coronavirus vaccine in the UK.
The Moderna vaccine has been shown to be 94% effective and should be available in the spring.
Today's news lends strength to what officials are saying in private: the second wave is almost certainly worse than the first.
Analysis: What does this mean for loosening restrictions later in the year?
By Rowland Manthorpe, science and technology correspondent
The number of daily deaths still hasn't exceeded the totals in the first wave and the R is lower than it was in March, but the sheer numbers of infected people are believed to be much larger.
At the peak of the pandemic, government scientists estimated there were around 100,000 new infections a day. Now the Office for National Statistics says there may be as many as 150,000.
Even the vaccine won't solve this problem completely. It will protect the most vulnerable against the disease, but it won't stop them getting infected, so if they stop being careful about preventing spread, we could see cases rise among groups that don't have protection.
For that reason, government scientists say that restrictions will have to be reduced very gradually to avoid stretching the health service.
One difference between the first wave and the second, they say, is the larger number of younger people in hospital. Until those groups are vaccinated, we may have to keep up our social distancing.
In the meantime, they are hoping that lockdown will reduce infections, as well as exploring further measures to stop the spread of the disease.
The new variant means that every effort we make has to be redoubled, including the distance we keep between ourselves. One possibility being explored is the return of the two-metre rule.
If it did come back, would people stick to it? The other big difference between the first and second waves is the level of compliance. Senior officials admit it is lower this time around. We will need to be high, they say, to get R below 1 in this lockdown.