The number of UK daily Covid-19 cases jumped to 32,548 on Wednesday as the Delta variant continues to spread.
It is the highest figure since 22 January, and double the rates seen at the end of last month.
Deaths were down slightly, to 33 from Tuesday’s 37.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
It came as Boris Johnson failed to deny that as many as 3.5 million people a week will be forced into self-isolation by his decision to scrap all coronavirus restrictions on 19 July.
The PM was pressed repeatedly in the Commons to spell out forecasts of deaths, hospitalisations and self-isolation orders, and was twice rebuked by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle as he dodged the question.
Meanwhile, the government has revealed it is considering charging for lateral-flow tests from next month.
And a medical Nobel laureate has warned the decision to lift rules such as mandatory face coverings could unleash a “vaccine-resistant variant”.
Sir Paul Nurse, the chief executive of the Francis Crick Institute, which has been heavily involved in Covid-19 research, questioned the wisdom of opening up “so much so fast” when infections were increasing rapidly.
He said the policy could “create a variant resistant to the vaccine”.
Experts are warning the relaxation of rules will condemn thousands of young Britons to long Covid, with the British Medical Association telling The Independent that up to 10,000 could be struck down by the debilitating condition in the coming weeks.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, chairperson of the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, said that long-Covid sufferers would be the “collateral damage” of Boris Johnson’s approach, and campaigners have written to health secretary Sajid Javid urging him to reconsider.
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