A major advertising campaign will urge the public to stay at home as a record new high in daily death figures fuelled fears the current lockdown is not working.
The statistics showed 1,325 people died with Covid-19, the highest number reported on a single day since the outbreak began.
The new adverts, fronted by England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, will emphasise the risk posed by the new strain of the disease and how stretched hospitals are becoming.
Everyone in England will be told to act “like you’ve got it”, as well as stay at home.
In the ad, Professor Whitty says Covid-19 is spreading quickly across the country putting “many people at risk of serious disease and… placing a lot of pressure on our NHS.”
He adds that while coronavirus vaccines give clear hope for the future, “for now we must all stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Launching the new adverts, Boris Johnson warned that hospitals were now under more pressure than at any other time since the start of the pandemic.
He added: “The vaccine has given us renewed hope in our fight against the virus but we must not be complacent. The NHS is under severe strain and we must take action to protect it, both so our doctors and nurses can continue to save lives and so they can vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as we can.”