A further 529 Britons have died after testing positive for Covid as the country’s daily death toll soars by nearly a third in just one week.
The total deaths recorded today marks a 30 per cent rise on the 407 reported on this day last week and is the deadliest Monday since April 20 when 570 people lost their lives.
But, in a positive sign that the UK’s soaring case load may be leveling out, 46,169 people tested positive for the virus today – down 20 per cent in a week.
Today’s case total marks the first sub-50,000 figure since December 28.
It comes after Boris Johnson met cabinet colleagues last night to discuss an even-tougher lockdown to get a grip on new Covid variant spreading rapidly throughout the UK.
Suggested measures include a ban on extended bubbles, compulsory mask-wearing outdoors and limits on exercise.
A Whitehall source told MailOnline ministers have discussed going as far as saying people can only leave the house once a week – although No10 today denied this was on the cards saying the focus was on ‘bolstering enforcement and policing’.
Under current rules, Britons can exercise with one other person or with their household or support bubble.
But a Government source said the rule is ‘being used as an excuse for people to go for a coffee in the park with their friends’ and could be tightened, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Matt Hancock today revealed that 2.3million people in the UK have now had a Covid vaccine as the roll-out hits a rate of around 200,000 jabs per day.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week pledged to hit 200,000 doses a day by this Friday, meaning the target appears to have been hit early after the number of people to receive their first dose of the vaccine has almost doubled in a week, from 1.3m on Sunday, January 3, to 2.6m by today.
The sign that immunisations are scaling up as planned comes as welcome news alongside the fact that the number of people being diagnosed with coronavirus dropped today.
Department of Health officials announced another 46,169 people received positive test results yesterday, which was down 20 per cent in a week and the first sub-50,000 figure since December 28.
Ministers today released the plan behind Britain’s great Covid vaccine roll-out, promising to dish out 2million jabs a week by the end of January through 2,700 centres dotted across the country.
With a successful inoculation drive Number 10’s only hope of ever ending the constant cycle of tough lockdowns, officials have faced mounting pressure to come clean about how they intend to protect the UK from coronavirus.
Matt Hancock said the plan — which involves creating 50 mass-vaccination centres at football stadiums and other huge venues — ‘maps our route back to normality’.
Under the plans, teachers and other key workers could be bumped up the priority queue. NHS England’s boss Sir Simon Stevens today claimed there was a ‘strong case’ to give them jabs once the first high priority groups, which includes all over 70s, adults with underlying conditions, NHS workers and care home staff, have had their jabs.
‘Roving’ vaccination teams, which are already being deployed to care homes, could be asked to go door-to-door in boroughs with low uptake rates.
The document adds that by the end of January everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site. And for those outside of this catchment, in highly rural areas, the vaccine will be brought to them via mobile teams.
So far the UK’s vaccination scheme has been plagued by supply and staffing shortages, logistical problems and bureaucratic barriers that have hampered its scale-up.
No10 today also suggested they could set up a round-the-clock jab programme if the public wanted it — but that it had not yet happened because there was not the demand for it. However, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi blamed a supply shortage for the absence of 24/7 jabs.
Ministers said an army of over 80,000 trained health workers would be involved with the vaccine rollout and more than 200,000 community volunteers have said that they will help with non-clinical side of the programme.
During a visit to Bristol City Football Club’s Ashton Gate Stadium, which has been converted into a vaccine super-centre, the Prime Minister told reporters: ‘We cannot be complacent. The worst thing now would be for us to allow the success in rolling out a vaccine programme to breed any kind of complacency about the state of the pandemic.’