Coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and deaths across the UK have risen dramatically in the past week.
The latest figures show cases are up by 30.7 per cent compared with the previous week while deaths in that period have risen by 43.1 per cent.
In the last 24-hour period there have been 32,367 Covid-19 cases and 34 deaths reported.
That compares with 35,707 Covid cases and 29 deaths the day before – the highest number of infections since 22 January when 40,261 cases were recorded.
The newest statistics come nine days before most restrictions are due to be lifted in England as part of step four of the lifting of lockdown, although the final decision will be made on Monday.
Boris Johnson this week said the UK will have to learn to live with the virus as he hailed the success of the vaccine rollout and said the majority of those being admitted to hospital are unvaccinated.
But scientists have urged ministers to reconsider the plans as they described abandoning restrictions as a “dangerous and unethical experiment”.
In a letter published in The Lancet, 122 British scientists said the exponential growth of the virus “will likely continue until millions more are infected, leaving hundreds of thousands with long-term illness and disability”.
They also said they are concerned the strategy “provides fertile ground for the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants”.
Mr Johnson said he wanted to move from “government diktat” towards personal responsibility, removing legal requirements for measures such as mask wearing.