More than 18,000 deaths were registered in England and Wales last week, the Office for National Statistics has reported.
This is the fourth-highest number of weekly deaths recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic and 30.5% above the five-year average.
However, 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.
Responding to the data Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said it is crucial that lockdown only be lifted when cases have cme right down.
‘While there are early signs that we could be passing the peak in new cases, the Covid-19 emergency is far from over, with the disease accounting for more than two in five deaths in England and Wales, the highest proportion of all deaths since the pandemic started.
‘According to the ONS, the total death count has now passed 100,000 people in the UK.
‘As we approach the anniversary of the first two positive cases of Covid-19 being identified in England, this is a grim new milestone in what our country has been through in the last year, and as we have been warned, things are likely to get worse before they get better in the coming weeks.
‘The NHS is doing everything it can to care for its patients, but it is under huge pressure, and the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 is nearly double what it was in the spring.
‘It’s crucial that the national lockdown is only eased when the evidence shows cases have come right down and that we get absolute certainty on the future supply of vaccines.’
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