UK reports highest number of new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began

UK reports highest number of new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began
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The United Kingdom reported the highest number of single-day COVID-19 cases Wednesday since the pandemic began as the country imposes sweeping new restrictions to beat back the virus’s spread.

Statistics released by the British government showed nearly 40,000 cases were tallied Wednesday, and 744 new deaths were recorded within 28 days of a positive test, the highest fatality total since the end of April.

There have been more than 236,000 positive cases in the past seven days, an over 61 percent increase from the previous seven-day period. 

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The worrying figures come as the U.K. works to protect its residents from a rapidly spreading new strain of COVID-19 that experts warn is more infectious than the virus that has been killing people since the pandemic’s initial outbreak. 

To combat the virus’s spread, the government on Wednesday announced more areas of England would fall under Tier 4 restrictions, the most serious in the kingdom.

The restrictions mean residents in those areas will have to stay at home except to travel for essential work and that nonessential retail, indoor gyms and leisure facilities must close.

“After all the efforts that we’ve gone through to control this virus, and in many parts of the country, this virus is under control. Just as we’ve got a tiering system in place that was able to control this virus, we’ve discovered a new, more contagious virus, a variant which is spreading at a dangerous rate. And I know that the vast majority of people watching today and across the country understand what we need to do together to get through this,” Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said at a press briefing.

The U.K. has had about 2.2 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, and more than 69,000 people there have died.