The UK on Wednesday reported a new daily record of 26,688 new coronavirus cases —a 25% increase on yesterday’s figure.
It came as UK PM Boris Johnson raised Greater Manchester to Tier 3, which is the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions in England.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon accused Johnson of ignoring experts in not employing a restrictions strategy without an “extreme” measure, close to the full lockdown in spring.
At a briefing on Wednesday, she said there the situation in her country called for “cautious optimism”, with new cases slowing.
Despite this, she said the government would announce a five-tier COVID system on Friday similar to England’s three-tier traffic light system.
She added pubs and restaurants in the central belt of Scotland, which were ordered to close under a circuit breaker lockdown a fortnight ago, were to remain shut for a further week.
In PMQ's this week, Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer also called for a "circuit breaker" — a short national lockdown — to combat rising COVID-19 cases in the country, saying schools starting half-term on Friday spelt the last chance to do this effectively.
Wales and Ireland have both recently announced such "fire-breaker lockdowns" measures.
"We are pursuing a regional approach, which is a sensible approach for this country," Johnson responded.
Over the last week in the UK there have been 134,606 new cases, a rise of 22% on the total from the previous week.
The country recorded 191 new deaths — down 50 (21%) from Tuesday's total of 241. Last week this figure stood at 137.
What about the rest of Europe?
Spain hit 1 million coronavirus infections since the onset of the pandemic, making it the first western European country to do so.
Data from the nation's health ministry added 16,973 new cases were added to its total, which is now 1,005,295 cases. Its death toll went up by 156 to 34,366.
France saw its total of new COVID-19 infections stay above the 25,000 mark for the sixth time in a 12-day period, logging 26,676.
Greece on tallied a high of new cases (865) since the end of February, with authorities saying a local lockdown would be put in place in the northern region of Kastoria.
“The situation is critical and strict adherence to measures is required under current circumstances,” deputy civil protection minister Nikos Hardalias said.