England’s chief medical officer has warned a “very large number” of people in England are becoming infected with COVID-19 and that deaths will continue to rise in the coming weeks.
Chris Whitty told a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday that Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates suggested that the second lockdown had been successful in bringing down infection rates.
But using five other charts, he warned that the pandemic had reached a worrying stage in the UK and that one in 50 Britons is estimated to have coronavirus at the moment.
“We’re now into a situation where, across the country as a whole, roughly one in 50 people have got the virus,” Whitty said.
“One in 50 is really quite a large number indeed.”
Number of deaths rising
One of the charts referred to by Whitty showed that the daily number of deaths from coronavirus is beginning to rise again.
The latest government figures published on Tuesday show that another 830 people have died from COVID in the UK – a large jump from the 407 deaths reported on Monday.
The deaths happened between 5 November and 4 January, with the majority being on or after 1 January, and it brings England's total number of fatalities with coronavirus in hospital to 52,395.
Watch: A complex picture - but what does the latest coronavirus data tell us right now?
Hospitalisations higher than first wave
Another government chart shows that hospital admissions are far higher than the first wave peak and have risen sharply in the last few days.
On Tuesday, COVID hospital admissions in England reached another record high, NHS England figures showed.
A total of 3,351 admissions in England were reported for 3 January, passing the previous record of 3,145 on 2 January.
During the first wave of the virus, admissions peaked at 3,099 on 1 April last year.
Whitty said COVID hospitalisations across England are "rising very rapidly and, of course, we are still in the middle of winter".
Regional breakdown of new variant cases
One chart referred to by Whitty showed the remarkable difference between cases attributed to the new variant of COVID and other strains.
Some regions including London, East Anglia and East Midlands are beginning to see sharp rises in new variant cases, the graphs show.
It comes as northern cities reported large rises in cases attributed to the different strain. In Liverpool, cases have almost trebled in the past two weeks to 350 per 100,000 people.
Whitty said that the fastest increase of the new variant is in the east of England, London and south-east, but it is "now taking off in other areas as well".
Overall infection numbers rising
Data shown during the press conference showed that cases continued to rise exponentially since the new variant was revealed last month.
A total of 60,916 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the UK on Tuesday, the highest on record and the first time the number has breached 60,000.
Whitty warned that the risk is "extraordinarily high" if people do not take the stay at home message seriously, owing to the new variant as well as winter.
He said the risk level will gradually decrease over time with measures being "lifted by degrees, possibly at different rates in different parts of the country, we'll have to see".
Case rate rising rapidly
A large rise in case rates across large parts of the UK had also taken place in the last few days, the government’s data showed.
Of the 315 local areas in England, 310 (98%) have seen a rise in case rates and five (2%) have seen a fall.
Barking & Dagenham in London continues to have the highest rate in England, with 3,216 new cases recorded in the seven days to 1 January – the equivalent of 1,510.5 cases per 100,000 people.
The areas recording the biggest week-on-week jumps are Carlisle, up from 349.7 to 932.1 with 1,013 new cases; Rushmoor in Hampshire, up from 657.5 to 1,229.4 with 1,163 new cases; and the Isle of Wight, up from 215.8 to 785.8, with 1,114 new cases.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown