The UK’s coronavirus hospital death toll has increased by 342 – the highest rise on a Friday since mid-May.
England reported 246 fatalities, Scotland had 56, Wales recorded 29 and Northern Ireland had 11 to bring the hospital total to 42,137.
It is the biggest jump on a Friday since 414 deaths on May 8.
By comparison, the tolls on recent Fridays were 270 on November 6, 202 on October 30, 167 on October 23, 98 on October 16, and 64 on October 9.
The lowest number of hospital deaths announced on a Friday was five on August 21, while the highest total was 953 on April 10 when the UK was in the initial peak of the pandemic.
The new figures were released as the number of deaths involving frontline health and care workers hit 200, and Government scientists warned infections are likely to increase again in December if lockdowns are lifted everywhere.
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The Government’s official death toll in all settings, including care homes and private homes, has passed 50,000.
NHS England announced 246 deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed reported fatalities in hospitals in England to 35,886.
The victims were aged between 26 and 100, and all except five (aged between 69 and 89) had known underlying health conditions.
In Scotland, the death toll increased by 56 to 3,244.
Wales reported a further 29 fatalities to bring its total to 2,171.
Northern Ireland’s toll stands at 836 after 11 more deaths.
At least 200 frontline health and care workers have now died after contracting coronavirus, it was confirmed on Friday.
The list of health and social care workers includes those who were working in roles shortly before their deaths where they were likely to come into contact with patients.
The most recent victim was consultant anaesthetist Dr Krishnan Subramanian, who died on Thursday.
“Quiet and dedicated” Dr Subramanian, who was in his late 40s, worked at the Royal Derby Hospital.
He was being treated at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester before his death.
Meanwhile, the UK’s coronavirus reproduction (R) number has fallen slightly to between 1 and 1.2 across the UK, but deaths will keep rising, say Government scientists.
Analysis from Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) suggests infections are likely to increase again in December if lockdowns are lifted everywhere.
It suggests local restrictions will be needed in certain areas in the weeks before Christmas.
Sage warned that the virus is still spreading and deaths and demand for healthcare will carry on unless R drops below one for an extended period of time.
It said the number of new infections is growing by between 1% to 3% every day.
For the past few weeks, it has put the R at between 1.1 and 1.3.
If the R value is above one then the Covid-19 epidemic continues to grow, but if it is below one it shows the outbreak is in retreat.
Separate Sage documents released on Friday indicate the national outbreak is still at a “high and controlled” phase.
If this remains the case, or if the outbreak returns to current levels after national lockdown is lifted on December 2, Sage advised that there is “little to no scope for loosening of social distancing rules over Christmas”.
The official R reproductive number is still above 1 because infections are still increasing among the elderly.
For England the R is slightly higher at between 1.1 and 1.2, down from a 1.1-1.3 range the previous week.
It suggests R could have dropped below 1 in Wales and Scotland.