UK coronavirus death toll rises by 316 with more than 30,000 new cases

Luke O'Reilly
·2-min read
<p>Police patrol on horseback through St James' Park in London</p> (PA)

Police patrol on horseback through St James' Park in London

(PA)

The UK has recorded another 316 deaths on Sunday with 30,501 new Covid-19 cases.

However, the government's coronavirus portal said the figures reflected data from England and Wales but said there was no new data from Northern Ireland and no new deaths data from Scotland owing to the Christmas holidays.

The boss of the firm behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has raised hopes it is more effective than first thought amid the rapid spread of the UK virus strain across the globe.

AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot told the Sunday Times he believed researchers had found the “winning formula” using two doses and promised to publish the results as reports suggested the UK regulator could approve the jab within days.

The claim will come as some relief even as Canada became the latest country to identify cases of the new highly infectious variant of coronavirus, which was first detected in the UK and has since spread to at least a dozen countries.

And Chancellor Rishi Sunak praised vaccination efforts so far, telling the Mail on Sunday: “There will be tough days and months ahead, but there are reasons to look ahead to a brighter future and what 2021 promises.

<p>Members of the public enjoy a stroll in Hampstead Heath on London on December 27, 2020</p>AFP via Getty Images

Members of the public enjoy a stroll in Hampstead Heath on London on December 27, 2020

AFP via Getty Images

“The early roll-out of vaccines – and the incredible work of our scientists and NHS – means we can now see light at the end of the tunnel with this pandemic.”

But medical unions and Labour criticised the Government’s handling of the programme, which they said had not made enough progress in care homes.

Nadra Ahmed, chairman of the National Care Association, told the Sunday Mirror the Pfizer/BioNTech roll out was going to be “difficult” but added: “It’s another case of the massive over-promise on something that just cannot be delivered. It’s constant.”

And Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the paper there was a “race against time” to vaccinate enough people as he urged the Government to avoid what he said were “the same mistakes again” in being “too slow” to protect care home residents – a veiled reference to PPE and hospital discharges.

On Christmas Eve, the Department of Health and Social Care said more than 600,000 people had received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but the roll-out in care homes has been limited to seven areas.

It added larger care homes with 50 to 70 beds would be prioritised first, with around 2,900 care homes of this size in England.

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