The country’s percentage of positive tests is also increasing above July and August levels.
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The UK has reported 6,178 new coronavirus cases – the highest daily total in four months.
There have only been two days since the pandemic began which have exceeded this total – 1 May, when there were 6,201 confirmed cases and 5 April, when there were 6,199.
More cases are being detected now than at the start of the UK outbreak due to increased testing, but Sky’s science correspondent Thomas Moore said the daily figure “will underline the urgency of action to stem a second wave.”
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The UK’s positivity rate – the ratio of positive tests to number of tests overall – is now at 2.51%, compared with below 1% for most of July and early August.
This is edging towards the World Health Organisation’s recommended level of below 5% and suggests that the number of infections is growing.
However, the UK is still nowhere near a realistic comparison to the peak of April and May, when Imperial College researchers have suggested there were more than 100,000 new infections a day.
Many of these cases would have been missed at the time as more consistent community testing began in May.
The country reported 4,926 daily confirmed cases on Tuesday.
A further 37 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK’s total death toll to 41,862.
Hospital admissions are also rising, with 1,469 COVID-19 patients in hospital on Wednesday compared with 1,319 on Tuesday.
Moore added: “It takes around 10 days from developing symptoms to needing hospital care and many scientists fear the surge in cases will lead to increasing pressure on hospitals in early October.”
Scotland has also recorded its highest number of daily cases, with 486 new confirmed infections.
It follows a stark warning from the prime minister on Tuesday as he revealed new restrictions for England.
In a televised address to the nation, he announced a curfew for pubs and restaurants, further face mask restrictions, tougher rules for weddings and encouraged office staff to work from home.
Telling Britons they would need to stick to the rules or face further restrictions, he said: “Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour.”
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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab echoed his comments, telling Sky News’ Kay Burley on Wednesday: “I don’t think we would speculate about what further could be done.
“But the reality [the restrictions] will be more intrusive or we could end up in a national lockdown. That is what we want to avoid.”