UK CORONAVIRUS cases have today seen their biggest daily increase yet as a shocking 35,928 infections were recorded.
The huge spike is almost double last week's daily figures – with the new stats also recording another 326 fatalities on the first day millions of Brits woke up to Tier 4 lockdown.
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The UK's grim death toll now stands at 67,401.
So far, the UK has recorded 2,040,147 infections – with the rate showing little signs of slowing with Christmas just days away.
Boris Johnson last night introduced new draconian measures in an attempt to stop the spread of a coronavirus after a new strain of Covid-19 was discovered.
It is feared the new variant is 70% more infectious – possibly increasing the R rate by 0.4.
And nearly 20million people had their Christmas plans cancelled last night as Tier 4 was brought in – with locals told to act like they have the virus if living in the lockdown areas.
New stats today showed the number of infections and deaths have doubled in a week. Last Sunday, 18,447 cases and another 144 more deaths were recorded.
In Scotland, another 934 new cases were reported along with three more deaths.
In Wales, another 2,334 new cases were reported today while another 69 fatalities were recorded.
In Northern Ireland, another 505 new infections were recorded along with another 13 deaths.
The areas in the new Tier 4 from midnight Saturday
Surrey (excluding Waverley)
The boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings
All 32 London boroughs and the city of London.
Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough
Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
The Health Secretary this morning said it would be “very difficult” to keep the deadly bug under control without the vaccine having been widely administered after the new strain emerged.
Matt Hancock today warned London and the South East could be trapped in Tier 4 for MONTHS until the vaccine takes hold.
And Mr Hancock admitted it was an “awful end to an incredibly difficult year.”
He added: “Everybody has been really looking forward to (Christmas) after all the sacrifices that have been made but unfortunately this virus, the new strain, was out of control.”
But he insisted the government needed to act after being presented with the scientific evidence over the new, more contagious strain.
Nearly 20million people were told their family get-togethers had to be axed with overnight stays banned under law.
But the city's stations were described as "war zones" as locals skipped town before the tough new Tier 4 lockdown came into effect at midnight.
Professor Chris Whitty last night begged people to stay at home yesterday evening as the rules were unveiled, warning: "If you have packed a bag, unpack it."
Yet within hours there were long queues of traffic on roads out of London and chaotic crushes at railway terminals as people fled to avoid the brutal new restrictions.
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