UK records 5,274 new Covid cases in 24 hours in highest number of daily infections since March as well as 18 more deaths

THE UK has reported the highest number of daily Covid cases since March, with another 5,274 new infections recorded in the latest 24-hour period.

There have also been another 18 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 127,812.

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Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Today's cases are up from yesterday's 4,300, and are significantly higher than the 2,433 reported a fortnight ago.

The number of new daily infections is the highest it has been since March 26, when 6,187 new cases were recorded.

It brings the total number of cases recorded in the UK since the start of the pandemic to 4,499,973.

Deaths are up by six from yesterday's 12, and have more than quadrupled since May 20 when there were four fatalities.

It comes as:

  • Heathrow and Birmingham airports to allow direct flights from banned ā€˜red listā€™ countries in trial from next week
  • Boris Johnson receives second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine
  • Indian variant is dominant in UK as cases double in a week and ministers fear new ā€˜Nepal strainā€™
  • Delay June 21 by weeks or risk REVERSING lockdown, say top experts
  • Now Grant Shapps confirms ā€˜Nepal variantā€™ after WHO denied claims of new strain
  • Portugal taken OFF green list and slapped on amber amid ā€˜concerningā€™ Nepal mutation of Indian variant

A whopping 66,180,731 vaccinations have now been given, including 39,758,428 first doses and 26,422,303 second jabs.

It comes as PHE revealed the number of cases of the Indian (Delta) variant haveĀ almost doubled in the past weekĀ – rising by 5,472 to 12,431.

And Grant Shapps today confirmed the existence of the "Nepal variant" – hours after the World Health Organisation slapped down reports of a new mutation.

It also comes asĀ Portugal was moved onto the "amber" listĀ for Brits travelling abroad, over fears for the mutated variant.

Holiday hopes for thousands will have been dashed by the move, which Mr Shapps also said was driven by a rise in Covid cases in the popular summer spot.

He said: "I want to be straight with people – this is a difficult decision to make but in the end we've seen two things that's caused concern.

"One is the positivity rate that has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal.

"The other is there's a sort of Nepal mutation of the Indian variant that's been detected and we just don't know the potential for that to be a vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don't want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock."

Despite concerns over the strains,Ā the PM has been told to "get on with it" and lift lockdown entirely on June 21.

Tory grandee Sir Iain Duncan Smith told him to ignore "nervous scientists" and plough ahead with 'Freedom Day' as planned.

And yesterday,Ā Mr Johnson says there is currently no good reason to delay the roadmap to freedom.

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