COVID-19: UK reports another 41,299 coronavirus cases and 217 deaths

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Another 41,299 coronavirus cases and 217 deaths have been reported in the UK, according to the government's official daily figures.

It compares with 33,865 COVID-19 cases and 293 deaths within 28 days of a positive test reported on Tuesday, and 43,941 and 207 this time last week.

The latest weekly average for cases is 39,691, a fall from mid-October when it reached more than 47,000.

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Another 296,670 booster shots take the total to 8,652,842, while 45,752,487 have had two vaccine doses.

There are 9,517 people in hospital with coronavirus, according to the latest count. That compares with 6,468 a month ago and under 1,000 at the start of June.

Total deaths within 28 days of a positive test since the start of the pandemic stand at 141,181.

The latest weekly average for COVID deaths is 163 - this figure has increased slowly since it started to pick up at the end of July, when it was around 70.

However, it's far lower than last winter's peak average of more than 1,200 daily deaths.

It comes as England's deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, warned of a "potentially problematic" Christmas due to COVID and said he thinks there will be "hard months to come".

Prof Van-Tam said too many people believe the pandemic is over.

"I personally feel there are some hard months to come in the winter and it is not over," he said.

Asked how a festive lockdown could be prevented, he told BBC Breakfast: "Christmas, and indeed all of the darker winter months, are potentially going to be problematic."

He said the things that "are really going to determine this" are the success of the vaccination programmes and how careful people are, particularly in the next couple of months.

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