COVID-19: UK reports another 37,269 coronavirus cases and 214 deaths

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Another 37,269 coronavirus cases and 214 deaths have been reported in the UK, according to the government's official daily figures.

It compares with 41,299 COVID-19 cases and 217 deaths within 28 days of a positive test reported on Wednesday, and 39,842 and 165 this time last week.

Over the last seven days there have been 275,264 cases - 20% down on the previous week.

Another 359,834 booster jabs have been administered, taking the total to 9.01 million, while 45.7 million people have had two doses of the vaccine.

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There are 9,517 people in hospital in the UK with coronavirus, according to the latest count, while total deaths within 28 days of a positive test stand at 141,395.

The latest figures come as new research suggested COVID infections are at their highest-ever levels.

Researchers from the REACT-1 study believe the increase is driven by high rates among school-aged children, with one in 17 infected between 19 October and 29 October.

They warn the next 10 days will be "critical" as children return to the classroom from half-term.

Across England, the overall prevalence of the virus was 1.72% compared with 0.83% in September.

On Thursday, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also announced that it had approved the use of a "game-changing" anti-viral pill to treat COVID-19.

The UK has become the first country to approve molnupiravir, which can be taken by people who have returned a positive test and have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness, such as obesity, being over 60, diabetes or heart disease.

After promising trial results, the MHRA said it was safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisations and death in people with mild to moderate coronavirus.

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Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the first country in the world to approve an anti-viral that can be taken at home for COVID-19.

"This will be a gamechanger for the most vulnerable and the immunosuppressed, who will soon be able to receive the ground-breaking treatment."

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