More than 1,000 new UK Covid-19 deaths have been reported for the second day in a row while hospital admissions have risen above the first wave peak, new figures show.
The Government said a further 1,162 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, the second consecutive day it has been above 1,000.
It is also the highest daily reported total since the peak of 1,224 reported on April 21.
It brings the UK total to 78,508, although separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 94,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
The figures continue to be affected by a lag in the publication of recent data and will contain some deaths that took place over the Christmas and new year period that have only just been reported.
Meanwhile 3,600 coronavirus patients were admitted to hospital in the UK on January 3, the first time it has been higher than the peak of 3,565 recorded on April 1.
However, the data is not updated every day by all four nations and the figures are not comparable because Wales includes suspected Covid-19 patients while the other nations include only confirmed cases.
Hospital admissions of people with Covid-19 reached another record high in England, NHS England figures also showed, with 3,697 admissions reported for January 5.
This passed the previous record of 3,587 on January 4.
During the first wave of the virus, admissions peaked at 3,099 on April 1 2020.
The number comprises all patients admitted in the previous 24 hours who were known to have Covid-19, plus any patients diagnosed in hospital with Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours.
The new data comes after health minister Lord Bethell suggested the numbers are expected to get worse.
He told peers the reported deaths per day is around 1,000 and “set to increase” given the high rates of infections and hospital admissions.
Lord Bethell said chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has observed that the rise in infections will lead to further deaths.
He added: “He (Prof Whitty) has also pointed out the very sad but I’m afraid inevitable possibility that the large amount of infection that has grown up over the last few weeks will in time lead to further deaths.
“This is an uncomfortable piece of speculation but as sure as night follows day, I’m afraid infections and hospitalisations will lead to further deaths.
“We’re running at about nearly 1,000 a day at the moment, and that number is set to increase.”
More than half of all major hospital trusts in England currently have more Covid-19 patients than at the peak of the first wave of the virus.
Some 84 out of 139 acute NHS trusts were recording a higher number of Covid-19 patients at 8am on January 5 2021 than at any point between March and May 2020.
This includes 13 of the 14 acute trusts in eastern England and 15 out of 18 acute trusts in south-east England.
The figures also show that 51 of the 139 acute trusts had a record number of Covid-19 patients on January 5.
The Government also said that, as of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 52,618 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 2,889,419.