England’s “very high” Covid infection level is a “growing concern” as the NHS struggles to cope with rising patient numbers, a health official has said.
On Monday, a further 41,385 Covid cases and 357 deaths were reported in the UK.
Some data for Scotland and Northern Ireland is not being released over the Christmas period.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: “Despite unprecedented levels of infection, there is hope on the horizon.”
She urged members of the public to “continue to play our part in stopping the spread of the virus” as the Pfizer/BioNTech
Coronavirus vaccine is rolled out.
“This very high level of infection is of growing concern at a time when our hospitals are at their most vulnerable, with new admissions rising in many regions,” Dr Doyle said in a statement.
Monday’s figure for new cases is the highest daily number reported by the UK government, and the first time the daily total has surpassed 40,000.
However, it is thought the infection rate was much higher during the first peak in April – but testing capacity was too limited to detect the true number.
‘We cope at a cost’
Scotland is not releasing data around deaths between 24 and 28 December, while Northern Ireland is not providing either case or death data.
There were 21,286 people in hospital with coronavirus across the UK on 22 December – the last day for which data is available – according to government figures.
Hospitals in Wales, Scotland and the south of England have reported a rising pressure on their services as the number of Covid patients rises.
The president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said she saw “wall to wall Covid” when she worked at one London hospital on Christmas Day.
Dr Katherine Henderson told the BBC there was a “great deal of difficulty” getting patients into wards.
She added: “The chances are that we will cope, but we cope at a cost – the cost is not doing what we had hoped, which is being able to keep non-Covid activities going.
“It is always challenging in winter, nobody would say that it wasn’t, but at the moment the level of patient need is incredibly high.”