Another 53,285 people in Britain have been diagnosed with Covid-19, marking four days in a row that there have been more than 50,000 positive tests announced.

The daily case count has surged 63 per cent in a week, from 32,275 last Friday, meaning a staggering 253,720 people have received positive test results since Monday this week.

And 613 more people have died with the virus, taking the total official death toll to 74,125.  

Coronavirus infections have surged over the Christmas holiday with the toughest lockdown measures for most of the country held off until Boxing Day or even later, allowing thousands of families to mix on December 25.

Cases are being driven up by the new super-infectious variant of coronavirus which emerged in the South East but has since spread nationwide.

And with London, Kent and Essex now at the epicentre of England’s second wave, pressure is piling onto hospitals in the region with some declaring they are in ‘disaster mode’.

Panic has gripped the NHS in London, with grim reports of ambulances queuing in the street outside A&E departments and one doctor warning she and her colleagues are already having to make tough choices about which patients should get ventilators.

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