The United Kingdom on Saturday recorded a further 57,725 new infections of coronavirus, the fifth day running that it has topped 50,000, and another 445 deaths, official data showed.
Friday’s data had shown 53,285 new Covid-19 cases and 613 fatalities.
Amid surging coronavirus cases blamed on a new virus variant, hospitals in Britain face a perilous situation in January, medical workers have warned. Authorities pressed to reactivate field hospitals previously mothballed just to handle the crush of new patients.
Concerns are mounting about the ability of the already-stretched National Health Service to cope with the anticipated increase in people seeking treatment for coronavirus infections over the coming weeks that could be further fueled by holiday gatherings over Christmas and New Year’s.
Although comparisons with the outset of the pandemic are difficult given that testing was limited in the spring, the UK is reporting a record number of daily new infections over the past four days — all above 50,000 and around double the daily number of a few weeks ago.
The spike in new cases is said to be due to a new, more contagious variant of the virus first identified around London and the southeast of England.
Vaccines approved for use in UK
For now, two vaccines have been approved for use in the UK and both require two doses per person.
Around 1 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech, with a small minority also getting the second dose as planned after 21 days.
Earlier this week, Britain also approved a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca that is substantially cheaper and easier to use.
Authorities then outlined the new dosing regimen, which delays a person’s second vaccine shot from being done at three weeks to being given up to 12 weeks after the first shot.