The UK death toll from coronavirus has risen by 574, with the country recording a further 39,036 cases.
Thursday’s figure, covering people who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, brings the total number of UK deaths to 69,625.
Separate figures published by statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 86,000 deaths involving coronavirus in the UK.
The figures came as Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference that England was facing “considerable new pressures” from the mutant strain, which has led to harsher restrictions across the south-east of the country.
The prime minister said that the tough tier system, community testing and rolling out the vaccine would be the approach to tackling the pandemic, but did not rule out a second national lockdown after Christmas.
Analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that around half of all new coronavirus cases in England could be the new variant.
Thursday’s figures of the number of deaths was a slight reduction from Wednesday, when the UK recorded 744 deaths, the highest number in one day since 29 April.
The latest figures show 2,143 patients were admitted to hospital on Thursday.
The government said that, as of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 39,036 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
A total of 239,928 people have tested positive with coronavirus over the past seven days, an increase of 49.1% over the previous seven days. It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 2,188,587.
London’s rate of new cases of Covid-19 has trebled in just two weeks, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England.
The rate stood at 602.2 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 20 December, up from 200.3 in the seven days to 6 December.
Rates have increased in all regions, with eastern England recording the next highest rate after London (440.7) followed by south-east England (380.6) and the West Midlands (218.8).
Johnson had already announced that more than 500,000 people had been given the first of the two jabs needed, but the exact figure published on Thursday was 616,933 between 8 December and 20 December.
In England, more than 70% of people who have been given a vaccine for coronavirus were aged over 80, figures show.