MORE than one million currently have Covid as the mutant strain continues to spread, Boris Johnson has announced.

New official figures show an estimated 1 in 50 people in England had Covid-19 between December 27 and January 2.

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This is the equivalent of around 2.06 per cent of the population, the Office for National Statistics said.

It represents a rise from 800,900 people, or one in 70, who were estimated to have Covid-19 in the period December 17 to 23.

The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

It came as:

  • England entered another lockdown today – with schools shut and people told to stay at home
  • Brits started panic buying yet again with shelves stripped bare
  • International travellers are set to be told to have a negative coronavirus test to get into the UK as Britain toughens up its borders
  • Experts said even this stricter lockdown might not be enough to curb the spread of the new strain
  • Hospitals continued to get busier as the NHS was just weeks from being overwhelmed
  • Gavin Williamson will give a statement to MPs in the Commons on schools and exams tomorrow – as Michael Gove said they would be cancelled

Covid cases in the UK today jumped by 60,916 in the highest ever rise as England was forced into a third lockdown.

Infections have rocketed after a mutant strain of the disease tore through the country – passing the 60,000 mark for the first time ever.

The Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference tonight: "The ONS is telling us more than two per cent of the population have Covid – over one million people in England.

"Today we have reported another 60,000 cases, and people in hospital is 40 per cent higher than the peak in April.

"Obviously everybody wants to be sure we in government are using every second of lockdown to put that invisible shield around the elderly and vulnerable in the form of vaccination so as to begin to bring this crisis to an end."

He revealed that more than 1.3 million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 across the UK.

Mr Johnson said the figures includes 650,000 people over the age of 80, which was 23 per cent of all the over 80s in England.

Meanwhile, tough new coronavirus restrictions may have to remain in place until March, senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove warned, as England enters its third national lockdown.

In a televised address on Monday, Boris Johnson announced stringent new controls – including closing schools to most pupils – in an attempt to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed by a surge in new infections.

At the same time, the Prime Minister raised the prospect that the vaccination programme being rolled out across the country could enable restrictions to be progressively eased from mid-February.

 

But, in a round of broadcast interviews on Tuesday morning, Mr Gove said relaxation of the rules may have to wait until the following month – and that even then some measures may have to remain in place.

"We will keep these constantly under review, but we can't predict with certainty that we will be able to lift restrictions in the week commencing February 15-22," he told Sky News.

"What we will be doing is everything that we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated, so that we can begin to progressively lift restrictions.

"I think it is right to say that, as we enter March, we should be able to lift some of these restrictions, but not necessarily all."

It came as the UK recorded 60,916 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases as of 9am on Tuesday – the highest daily total reported so far.

The Government said a further 830 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday.

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