The UK has recorded another 608 coronavirus deaths overnight – a jump of more than 100 compared to last Tuesday’s figure.
Today’s rise in fatalities is the highest reported increase since May 12 , when 614 deaths were recorded.
It takes the country’s official Covid-19 death toll to 55,838.
However, separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been more than 71,000 deaths registered in the UK where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate.
Meanwhile, another 11,299 cases have been confirmed over the past 24 hours.
This is almost half the number of new infections that were reported on the same day a week ago, when 20,051 cases were recorded.
It suggests lockdown restrictions may be starting to show their impact, and brings the total number of UK cases since the start of the pandemic to 1,538,794.
Data shows that a 10-year-old boy was among a further 353 people who have died in hospital in England after testing positive for the virus.
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NHS England said that the patients were aged between 10 and 100 and the majority had known underlying health conditions.
A total of nine, aged between 31 and 90, did not have underlying conditions, it added.
The deaths occurred between October 24 and November 23, and took the total number of confirmed deaths in England’s hospitals to 38,865.
The latest figures come as ministers from across the nation met to consider plans to allow families to reunite over Christmas.
However, she stressed variations could be needed to “reflect the different circumstances in each nation”.
Ms Sturgeon told a Holyrood briefing: “I know everyone has a desire to see loved ones over the festive period.
“However, there is also a very real and a very legitimate anxiety that doing so could put those we love at risk, set back our progress as a country and result in unnecessary deaths and suffering.”
Scotland reported 771 new Covid cases on Tuesday compared to England’s 9,854, while Wales recorded a further 595.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said there would need to be a cautious approach both before Christmas and in the “aftermath” because of the risk that increased household mixing could spread the virus.
He told the Welsh Parliament: “Coronavirus thrives when people get together and the more people get together, the more coronavirus there will be.
“It’s why I have been arguing in the meetings we have had for a focus not just on a small number of days of Christmas itself, but the decisions we need to take in the lead-up to Christmas and how we will deal with the aftermath and to try to do that on a broadly common basis as well.”
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