The UK has recorded a further 610 Covid-related deaths in the latest reporting period, along with another 30,004 cases.
It brings the total number of Covid-related deaths in the UK to 97,939 over the course of the pandemic.
The R number, which estimates the growth rate of the pandemic, currently sits at between 0.8 and 1, suggesting the virus may be on the decline and lockdown is beginning to take effect.
However, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, has warned that every rule break does not is another step away from exiting restrictions and a further opportunity for another strain to take hold.
‘It has never been more important that people abide by the rules and stay at home.
‘Despite evidence that the lockdown may be beginning to work, case rates are still incredibly high, the entire health and care sector is under extreme pressure and we are learning more of the possible dangers of the new variants.
‘We simply have to drive down rates of infection and allow our healthcare services to catch their breath. We are still in a Covid-19 emergency which is likely to get worse before it gets better.
‘If we are to be more effective at keeping the infection rate down, we need to see evidence on exactly how and where people are contracting the virus so the appropriate action can be taken to prevent transmission further during the lockdown.
‘We have hugely encouraging news on the progress of the vaccination programme reaching the majority of over 80s and elderly care home residents thanks to the sterling efforts from GP-led centres and other parts of the NHS, which are ready to do more if the supply is there.
‘But this is no time to relax as more new mutations could be driven by a higher prevalence in the community. Every rule break does not just endanger your family or your street, but is another step away from exiting restrictions and a further opportunity for another strain to take hold.’
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