.css-14iz86j-BoldText{font-weight:bold;}Coronavirus cases in the UK have risen by 35,928 – nearly double the number recorded last Sunday, .css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link{color:#3F3F42;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited{color:#696969;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited{font-weight:bolder;border-bottom:1px solid #BABABA;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:focus,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:focus{border-bottom-color:currentcolor;border-bottom-width:2px;color:#B80000;}@supports (text-underline-offset:0.25em){.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited{border-bottom:none;-webkit-text-decoration:underline #BABABA;text-decoration:underline #BABABA;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-skip-ink:none;text-decoration-skip-ink:none;text-underline-offset:0.25em;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:focus,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:focus{-webkit-text-decoration-color:currentcolor;text-decoration-color:currentcolor;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:2px;text-decoration-thickness:2px;color:#B80000;}}figures show.

Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle said the “sharp” rise in cases was of “serious concern”.

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that a new variant of the virus was “getting out of control”.

Christmas plans have been scrapped or restricted for millions across the UK amid warnings the variant is up to 70% more transmissible than previous types.

The number of new UK infections on Sunday is an all-time high for recorded cases and nearly double the 18,447 cases reported a week ago.

However, it is thought the infection rate was higher during the first peak in spring, with testing capacity too limited at the time to detect the true number of daily cases.

Prof Doyle said most of the new cases in England were concentrated in London and the South East, although it was too early to say if this was linked to the new variant.

The government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) estimates the variant could increase the R number – which indicates if an epidemic is growing or shrinking – by between 0.4 and 0.9, minutes released on Sunday show.

A growing number of countries have banned travel from the UK as a result of this variant, including Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands.

Eurotunnel is suspending access to its Folkestone terminal from 11:00 GMT for traffic heading to Calais due to the 48-hour travel ban introduced by France.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, Mr Hancock said the news about the new variant “has been an incredibly difficult end to frankly an awful year”.

He said: “Of course we don’t want to cancel Christmas… we don’t want to take any of these measures, but it’s our duty to take them when the evidence is clear.”

Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, told Andrew Marr there was evidence that people with the new strain had “higher viral loads”, which meant they were more infectious.

Some 21 million people in England and Wales who entered new restrictions at midnight are being told to stay at home, while non-essential shops and businesses have to close.

Those living under the newly created tier four restrictions in England will now be unable to mix with other households indoors at Christmas, unless they are part of their existing support bubble.

The health secretary said it was not clear how long the tier four measures would be in place, but it could be for months, “until we can get the vaccine going”.

He added that people in tier four should act as if they may have the virus.

In the rest of England, Scotland and Wales, relaxed indoor mixing rules will only apply on Christmas Day.

Covid rules had been relaxed across the UK to allow up to three households to mix indoors for five days over the Christmas period.

A ban on travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK will also apply over the festive period. Police Scotland said it would be doubling its patrols on the borders but it would not be introducing check points.

Scotland’s restrictions will only be relaxed on Christmas Day, with mainland Scotland being placed under the tightest restrictions from Boxing Day.

Wales has also entered a new shutdown, with the health minister saying the new variant was “seeded” in every part.

In Northern Ireland, where the planned relaxation of rules for Christmas is going ahead unchanged, four of the five main parties have called for an urgent meeting to discuss the restrictions.

The PM’s announcement on Saturday of new restrictions came just days after he defended plans to relax restrictions for five days during the festive period – despite calls by some in the medical profession to scrap the change.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party supported the latest restrictions, but he accused Boris Johnson of “gross negligence” in failing to act earlier.

Sir Keir told an online press conference that it was “blatantly obvious last week” that Mr Johnson’s plans to relax the rules over Christmas was “a risk too far”, adding that his claim that “this is all down to a new form of the virus that has just emerged does not stand up to scrutiny”.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told BBC Breakfast the “11th-hour announcement is a bitter blow” for families and businesses, saying it is the “chop-change, stop-start, that’s led to so much anguish, despair, sadness and disappointment”.

Similar to England’s second national lockdown – tier four applies to Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.

It also applies in London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London) and the east of England (Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

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News – Covid: Cases rise as Christmas rules come into force