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UK Covid-19 deaths soar by 1,162 as NHS staff warn of exhaustion

The UK has recorded its second-highest number of daily deaths since the start of the pandemic – 1,162.

The number of fatalities is up on yesterday when 1,041 people were reported to have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus, according to government figures.

It is the second-highest daily COVID-19 death toll ever – beaten only by the number on 21 April, which was 1,224.

Today is only the 11th time daily deaths have surpassed 1,000.

But the latest case numbers are down by almost 10,000 on yesterday from 62,322 on Wednesday to 52,618 on Thursday.

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The majority of the deaths and cases reported on Thursday were in England – 1,004 and 46,841 respectively.

The next-highest numbers were in Scotland, where 2,649 new cases were reported alongside 78 further deaths.

Wales confirmed another 1,718 positive test results in the past 24 hours and 63 further deaths.

Northern Ireland recorded another 1,410 cases and 17 deaths.

It comes as GPs roll out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for the first time.

The government has committed to vaccinating more than 13 million people in the top four priority groups by the middle of February.

But there have been concerns about the decision to delay second doses of the vaccine for up to 12 weeks after England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said there was a “real worry” it may result in an “escaped mutant”.

One in 50 people in England now have the virus, according to the latest official figures, with some NHS trusts in London and the South East at risk of being overwhelmed.

Lindsey Izard, who works in intensive care at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, said staff are so stretched that they are having to make compromises on her ward.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today warned the epidemic is “out of control” and said Britain was in a “race against time” to bring case numbers down.