The UK has recorded 50,091 new cases of COVID-19 and 160 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, government data show.
It is the first time since October 21 that more than 50,000 new cases have been reported – on that day 52,009 new cases were announced.
The latest figures compare 47,240 illnesses and 147 deaths reported on Thursday, with 44,242 cases and 157 deaths recorded last week.
The number of confirmed cases in the UK has increased by 10% per week, while the death toll has dropped by 15.5%.
It comes as Europe has recorded its first case of new COVID differences after its discovery in Belgium. It has previously been identified in other areas including South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel.
The UK has so far not reported any cases of this exception, identified as B.1.1.529, but Health Secretary Sajid Javid has previously said it may now be spread across southern Africa.
He warned that the new strain could be more contagious than Delta’s diversity and “could have a different impact on people” who contract the virus.
He said the UK was still “in a strong position” due to high vaccination but said the new exception “had an unusually high rate of conversion”.
The UK government has added South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Namibia to the UK’s red tourism list during this difficult new crisis. And flights from these countries to the UK have been suspended until 4am on Sunday.
Passengers arriving in the UK from these countries from 4am on Sunday will be required to book and pay for government-approved accommodation for 10 days. Downing Street urged anyone who had recently arrived from these countries to get tested.
Meanwhile, the weekly weekly R in England is estimated to have risen to between 1.0 and 1.1.
The reproductive statistics, from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), indicate that for every 10 people with coronavirus, on average, they will infect between 10 and 11 others.
So the epidemic seems to be on the rise in England, with ‘R’ estimated to be between 0.8 and 1.0 last week.
There are currently 7,633 COVID patients in UK hospitals, including 925 in the ventilator.
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Another 23,579 people received their first dose of COVID vaccine on Thursday, which totaled 50,875,712 .
Also, 22,823 had their second jab, which means 46,255,081 have two doses in the UK.
There was an additional 396,081 booster or third dose given on Thursday, which took a total of 16,779,656.