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UK reports 1,610 deaths from COVID-19, the highest daily figure in pandemic so far

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A woman with face covering walks past windows of the London Bridge tube station with signs to support the NHS in London, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.
A woman with face covering walks past windows of the London Bridge tube station with signs to support the NHS in London, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.   -   Copyright  Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo
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The UK reported a record number of deaths on Tuesday, with 1,610 people dying within 28 days of a positive test, Public Health England said.

It comes as record levels of people are being hospitalised daily due to coronavirus, with a total of 37,946 people currently in hospital.

"The NHS is under significant pressure in all parts of the country," health secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday, explaining that hospitalisations were at the highest level at any time during the pandemic.

A person is admitted to hospital in the UK every 30 seconds, UK officials have said.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth tweeted that the new record number of deaths was: "Awful. Horrific. Devastating. And it didn’t have to be like this."

The UK meanwhile recorded 33,355 new infections, a number that has decreased since early January when there were more than 50,000 infections a day.

At least one in eight people in the UK had already been infected with the virus by December, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics that were earlier on Tuesday.

In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, the UK has closed schools and entered its third national lockdown. On Tuesday, Scottish officials extended their lockdown until at least mid-February.

The UK, which faces a coronavirus surge due to a more transmissible variant that has spread all over Europe, has meanwhile raced ahead with its vaccination strategy.

A total of 4,266,577 people have received their first dose of a vaccine. The UK has approved three coronavirus vaccines and hopes to have vulnerable people and healthcare workers vaccinated by mid-February.

UK officials have called vaccinations the "way out" and said that they have vaccinated half of people over the age of 80.