The UK has recorded a further 1,610 coronavirus deaths – the highest number reported on a single day since the outbreak began.
Public Health England said the figure was of those who had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 91,470.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show that there have now been 108,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
Many of the deaths included in Tuesday’s total will have taken place over the past few days, with some occurring more than a week ago, but are only now being reported due to the fact that fewer deaths are formally recorded at weekends.
Public Health England’s medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “Each death is a tragedy and the number of Covid-19 related deaths within 28 days of a positive test will continue for some time throughout this second wave.
“Whilst there are some early signs that show our sacrifices are working, we must continue to strictly abide by the measures in place.
“By reducing our contacts and staying at home we will see a fall in the number of infections over time.”
The Government also said that, as of 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 33,355 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 3,466,849.
Dr Doyle added: “I know that many of us feel anxious and worry about the pandemic, this is only natural.
“Looking after our mental wellbeing is incredibly important – so chat to those close to you, find time to relax and do the activities you enjoy at home.”
Responding to the latest death figures, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The climbing record death rate is a tragic reminder of how devastating this virus is.
“Behind every statistic is a family grieving and in pain. It didn’t have to be like this. Every effort must be made to suppress Covid, minimise sickness, and save lives.”
Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, warned there could be further “record-breaking” days concerning the number of newly reported deaths.
He said: “The lockdown is starting to show an effect on new cases per day.
“However, a proportion of the cases from early January will be admitted to hospital approximately this week, and deaths from those cases will likely peak around the end of this month.
“Therefore, we will alas see several more ‘record-breaking’ days in terms of newly-reported deaths.
“Over the coming weeks, the combination of the lockdown and the impact of the vaccine rollout will start to translate into a reduction of severe Covid-19 cases.”