Government figures show the UK has recorded five straight daily highs — all above 50,000 and nearly double the levels of two weeks ago.
Also, hospitals in Britain have started receiving batches of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, approved by British regulators this week.
Some 530,000 doses of the vaccine will be available for rollout across the country from Monday. Nursing home residents and their caretakers, those over 80 and hospital staff are set to receive the first doses.
The Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust in southern England, was among the first to get the vaccine. Dr. George Findlay, the trust’s chief medical officer, says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is “much easier” to administer than the Pfizer-BioNTech, which needs storage at extremely cold temperatures.
Second doses of both vaccines will occur within 12 weeks rather than the 21 days initially planned, following a change in guidance that aims to increase the number of people who get the first vaccine. More than a million people in the U.K. have received their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
The government says 445 people have died in the 28 days after testing positive for the coronavirus. That takes the confirmed total to 74,570, the sixth-highest death toll in the world.