The United Kingdom has registered its largest daily COVID-19 death toll since the beginning of the pandemic.
A further 1,325 new fatalities were recorded on Friday, bringing the total death toll to 79,833 — the highest in Europe.
It is the third day in a row that more than 1,000 new deaths have been recorded.
An additional 68,058 new infections were also registered — the highest one-day increase the UK has recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.
England is two days into a third national lockdown to curb the spread of a COVID-19 variant found to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible.
The country currently has an incidence rate of over 600 cases per 100,000 inhabitants with the rate increasing to over 800 cases per 100,000 population in the south-east and in Northern Ireland.
In London, where the incidence rate has crossed 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, authorities declared a major incident on Friday with Mayor Sadiq Khan describing the situation as "out of control".
Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England, said in a statement that at least one out of every 30 Londoners are now thought to be carrying the virus.
The latest grim figures come as the UK approved the use of a third vaccine on Friday. The first doses of the Moderna vaccine are to be delivered in the spring.
The UK has so far vaccinated about 1.5 million people using the jabs developed by Pfizer/BioNtech and AstraZeneca/Oxford University.
The government aims to vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February when the lockdown is scheduled to be lifted.
British hospitals were also on Friday authorised to use two new drugs to treat severely-ill COVID-19 patients.
Tocilizumab and sarilumab, two anti-inflammatory drugs typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, were found to reduce the risk of death by 24 per cent in clinical trials involving 800 people.