CORONAVIRUS cases in the UK have seen their biggest ever daily rise after 36,804 new positive tests and 691 deaths were announced today.
The latest daily figures show Covid cases have nearly doubled rise since the 18,450 infections recorded this time last week.
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The 691 deaths is the second-highest figure since May and only five short of the 696 deaths posted on November 25, shortly after the second national lockdown was announced.
The figures has increased by 37 per cent since last Tuesday's figure of 506 fatalities.
Positive tests have also nearly trebled since a fortnight ago, when 12,282 cases were recorded on December 8.
The number of recorded cases on a Tuesday can often be higher due to a lag in positive tests being reported over the weekend.
More than 2,000,000 positive tests and 68,000 deaths have been recorded since the start of the pandemic in January this year.
The increase in cases is believed to be down to a new mutant strain of the virus which has swept London and the South East.
Eight areas of England, including Thurrock and Basildon in Essex and Havering in East London now have infection rates higher than 1,000 per 100,000 of population.
The soaring infection levels saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce a new Tier 4 lockdown on Saturday which has plunged 16 million people back into virtual lockdown, with all pubs and non-essential shops shut and people urged to stay indoors.
The new mutant strain is feared to be present in every region of the UK, with health bosses and government ministers urging people living in Tier 4 areas not to travel to other parts of the country.
Overall 90 per cent of England has seen a rise in infection rates in the most recent week, to December 17.
Only 30 of the 315 areas have seen cases fall, making up 10 per cent, and just one region remains unchanged.
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