The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the UK has passed one million, with a further 326 deaths reported.
Today the Department of Health revealed the grim milestone with Prime Minister Boris Johnson poised to put England back in lockdown.
There were 21,915 infections confirmed in 24 hours, the Department of Health confirmed, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 1,011,660.
Nearly 10,000 people are in hospital, latest data shows, while 978 are in ventilator beds.
The official Covid-19 death toll stands at 46,555, but ONS data recording cases where the virus is mentioned on death certificates show there have now been 62,000 fatalities.
Earlier today health authorities confirmed 256 Covid-19 patients had died in UK hospitals.
NHS England reported a further 208 patients had died, while Scotland confirmed 24 fatalities, Wales 13 and Northern Ireland saw 11.
A week ago, 224 deaths were reported in all settings, and a week before that there were 136.
Yesterday there were 274 confirmed fatalities.
Commenting on the news that more than one million lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the UK, Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: “For many among this million, getting infected has meant serious illness and even death.
“We have all already made huge sacrifices and we are in an increasingly precarious situation as hospital admissions grow each day.
“But we can all continue to play our part in bringing this virus under control and must abide by the restrictions in place, socially distance, wear a face covering and regularly washing our hands.”
A SAGE scientist earlier warned that coronavirus is “running riot” across all age groups amid fears the country could be forced into a second lockdown.
He also said there were “many more cases particularly in younger females between the ages of 20 and 40” due to their work roles putting them at a greater risk of exposure.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “For the naysayers that don’t believe in a second wave, there is a second wave.
“And, unlike the first wave, where we had a national lockdown which protected huge swathes of society, this outbreak is now running riot across all age groups.”
He added: ”We’ve got baked into the system many more cases, particularly in younger females between the ages of 20 and 40.
“We’re seeing three to four times as many women between the ages of 20 and 40 coming into hospital than men. Now that’s because they’re exposed in retail, hospitality and some educational settings.”
The Prime Minister is expected to announce further lockdown measures for England at a press conference today, which could see everywhere except essential shops and education settings closed for a month.
Boris Johnson will hold a press conference at 5pm, and will be joined alongside chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
It was understood that The Prime Minister met with his Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove and Health Minister Matt Hancock for crunch talks on Friday.
They came to the conclusion that more severe restrictions of freedoms are necessary due to the demand being placed on hospitals by rising Covid-19 cases, according to reports.
Mr Johnson is then said to have come to a reluctant conclusion that a full national lockdown for England until December 1 was necessary.
Fellow SAGE scientist Professor John Edmunds said the only way to have a “relatively safe” Christmas is to take “stringent” action now to bring the incidence of the virus “right down”.
-- to www.mirror.co.uk