The UK has more new Covid-19 cases per capita than any other major country in the world, the latest data reveals.
The number of new daily coronavirus cases topped 60,000 for the first time this week, equivalent to more than 800 people in every million.
This is nearly quadruple the per capita rate of Italy, Spain and France, and more than 10-times worse than the new infections reported during the first wave last April.
Estimates based on the latest data suggest that around one in 50 people in the UK currently have the virus.
Only the US has a per capita infection rate nearly equivalent to the UK of any country that has seen more than 1 million cases.
The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK each day has not dropped below 50,000 since 29 December and has climbed rapidly over the last month.
Since 6 December, the average number of new daily cases has risen from around 15,000 to above 55,000.
Labour leader Keir Starmer called for a “round the clock” vaccination programme on Monday, after figures showed the UK to be lagging behind other countries.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that 1.3 million people have so far received a Covid-19 vaccination.
The UK now has a total of more than 2.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases, making it the worst hit country in Europe in terms of cumulative cases.
Only the US, Brazil, India and Russia rank higher globally.
The latest surge in cases has put significant strain on the NHS, with the number of hospital patients up 40 per cent compared to the first wave.
Figures from NHS England show that hospital admissions reached record highs on Tuesday, as one facility in Lincolnshire was forced to declare a “critical incident” as a result of the influx of new Covid-19 patients. It is estimated that around three in 10 beds in UK hospitals are now occupied by people infected with coronavirus, which could rise if the rate of infections does not slow.
A third lockdown is currently underway across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and most of Scotland in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
“The rapid rise in cases is highly concerning and will sadly mean yet more pressure on our health services in the depths of winter,” said Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England.
“That is why if we can, we must stay at home."
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