Another 35,383 people in Britain have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,948,660, according to official figures released on Thursday.
In a statement, the British government said on its website that the number of new cases reported on Thursday includes around 11,000 previously unreported cases for Wales as a result of system maintenance, Xinhua reported.
The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 532 to 66,052, the data showed.
The figures came as Britons are being urged to keep their gatherings during Christmas to a minimum this year to avoid spreading coronavirus.
In a joint statement, the British government, along with the devolved Scottish government and Welsh government, warned that a “smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas, and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas.”
Despite a surge in coronavirus cases, the British government has maintained its previous decision to relax restriction rules for Christmas, between December 23 to 27, allowing up to three households to get together in homes and places of worship in England.
In Wales, only two households plus an additional single person who lives alone will be allowed to meet during the five-day period. In Scotland, people are being urged to only meet on one of the five days.
Earlier Thursday, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the highest Tier Three restrictions will be extended to the east and southeast of England, including such areas as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire as well as parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire. The areas that are already in Tier Three will remain there.
The new measures will come into effect at 00:01 (0001 GMT) on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Bristol and North Somerset will move from Tier Three to Tier Two, and Herefordshire will move from Tier Two into Tier One.
On Monday, London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire were moved into Tier Three, with the change taking effect on Wednesday. Around 68 per cent of England’s population, about 38 million people, will be living in Tier Three from the weekend.