After the discovery of a second new variant of the novel coronavirus in Britain, the UK has reported the highest number of single-day Covid-19 fatalities since late April.
According to official figures, the UK reported 744 fatalities on Wednesday, which increased the overall death toll to 69,157, reports Xinhua news agency.
Another 39,237 people also tested positive for the virus, the highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic in the country, bringing the overall caseload in the UK to 2,155,996, the data showed.
The figures were revealed as Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that more areas of the East and South East of England will be put into Tier Four restrictions, the highest level.
Under the new tougher measures, residents in Tier Four areas must stay at home, with limited exemptions.
People are also urged to work from home when they can.
In his announcement, Hancock also said that the second new variant was reportedly related to travellers from South Africa, and two cases have been reported so far.
“This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK,” he said.
On December 19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the discovery of a first mutant Covid-19 strain which is said to be about 70 per cent more transmissible.
As a result, Johnson imposed Tier Four restrictions om London and other parts of England.