The UK has recorded its highest number of COVID-19 deaths reported on a single day since the pandemic began, with 1325 people dead.
The UK government said the victims died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19, bringing the UK’s total virus death toll to 79,833.
Meanwhile, there were a further 68,053 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, the highest figure reported in a single day since the start of mass testing last May.
The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital in England also stood at a record 29,346 as of 8am local time on Friday, up by 30 per cent from a week ago.
Hospital admissions also hit a new high with a total of 3967 admissions in England reported for January 6, passing the previous record of 3697 on January 5, according to NHS England figures.
In a more positive development, a third COVID-19 vaccine, from US biotech firm Moderna, was given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – joining the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.
But the UK government has doubled down on its stay-at-home message by launching a new advert, fronted by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, urging everyone in England to “act like you’ve got” coronavirus.
“Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all stay home, protect the NHS and save lives,” Prof Whitty said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also appears in the ad.
“I know the last year has taken its toll – but your compliance is now more vital than ever,” he said.
The advertising campaign will run across TV, radio, newspapers and on social media and will feature images of patients in hospital.
Scientists advising the government believe the current lockdown may lead to a plateau of cases of coronavirus across the UK rather than the dramatic cut seen following the March and April lockdown.
They estimate there are currently more than 100,000 new infections per day and possibly higher than 150,000, which they believe puts the current number of daily cases at a higher level than during the first wave of the pandemic.
Data shows hospitals are also seeing far more younger people than during the first wave.
In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” as the spread of coronavirus threatens to “overwhelm” the capital’s hospitals.
Scotland also recorded its highest daily number of coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic, while the number of people being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals has exceeded the April peak.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said 93 virus-related deaths had been recorded in the past 24 hours – more than the previous daily high of 84.