The government said a further 1,820 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 – the highest number of UK deaths reported on a single day since the outbreak began.
The increase to the number of fatalities observed in official figures breaks a record set the previous day – with Tuesday’s numbers standing at 1,610. The Department of Health’s total figure for deaths attributed directly to the virus now stands at 93,290 since the outbreak began.
While the statistics take account of deaths across the span of four weeks, government data shows that 1,110 people died on 12 January alone – the deadliest day of the UK’s outbreak so far.
The previous record was set during the first spike in cases, with 1,073 deaths on 8 April.
Cases meanwhile rose by 38,905, to reach a new total number of confirmed coronavirus infections of 3,505,754.
The grim statistics appeared as Sir Patrick Vallance gave a stark warning about the strain the pandemic was putting on hospitals.
“This is very, very bad at the moment, with enormous pressure, and in some cases it looks like a war zone in terms of the things that people are having to deal with,” he said.
The rate at which vaccines have been deployed across the UK has also increased, with 5,070365 jabs given so far.
Of those administered 4,609,740 were first doses – a rise of 343,163 on the previous day’s figures.
Some 460,625 were second doses, an increase of 3,759 on figures released the previous day. The seven-day rolling average of first doses given in the UK is now 281,490.
Answering viewers’ questions on Sky News, Sir Patrick warned that vaccines were not doing enough of the “heavy lifting” at the moment to consider easing lockdown restrictions, with case rates needing to decline further before ministers could consider relaxing the measures.
The government has pledged that all those in the top priority groups, including the over-70s and frontline health and social care workers, will have received an offer to have had their first dose of the jab given to them by mid-February.
“The advice at the moment is vaccines are not going to do the heavy lifting for us at the moment, anywhere near it,” Sir Patrick said.
“This is about, I’m afraid, the restrictive measures which we’re all living under and carrying on with those.
“The numbers are nowhere near where they need to be at the moment, they need to come down quite a lot further – we need to make sure we stick with it.
“You go for a walk in the park or something, life looks normal; you go for a walk in a hospital, if you work in a hospital, you will see life not looking normal at all.”
Additional reporting by agencies