Britain today recorded another 52 hospital deaths as the number of fatalities inside wards more than doubled in a week, preliminary figures show.
Of these, 42 new deaths were reported in England, with a further four fatalities in Scotland, five in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.
Close to half of England's hospital deaths were in the North West, where 1,603 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours despite localised Covid-19 restrictions.
The preliminary total saw an increase of 126 per cent on the figure recorded last Saturday, when 23 people were confirmed to have died in hospital.
Further details on deaths across all settings will be released by the Department of Health later today.
All those who died in England were between 40 and 80 years old.
Health officials in Scotland also today confirmed 764 further cases of Covid-19, as Public Health Wales reported another 576 infections - up from 462 announced a day earlier.
In Northern Ireland, 726 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours.
Britain's second wave of coronavirus showed signs of slowing down on Friday, as the number of new positive tests were just 1.4 per cent higher than last week.
Another 6,968 cases were announced yesterday, only marginally higher than the 6,874 last Friday. This small rise comes as most days in September saw a week-on-week increase of more than 35 per cent.
Friday's was the lowest weekly increase since August 25, suggesting last month's resurgence in cases has hit its peak.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also backed up signs that the outbreak is slowing and estimated there were 8,400 daily cases of the disease in England in the week ending September 24. This marks a 12.5 per cent fall from the 9,600 infections thought to have been occurring every day the week before.
The ONS described its findings as 'limited evidence' transmission of the virus 'may be levelling off following steep increases during August and September'.
The estimate is based on 300,000 tests sent to homes across the country over the past six weeks - they produced 400 positive swabs and mathematical modelling is used to apply the result to the whole population.
The latest figures come as Government sources today revealed a Covid-19 vaccination could be just 'three months away' in Britain.
The preliminary hospital death total saw an increase of 122 per cent on the figure recorded last Saturday, when 23 people were confirmed to have died in hospital. Pictured: Oxford Circus on Friday
Close to half of England's hospital deaths were in the North West, where 1,603 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours despite localised Covid-19 restrictions. Pictured: London
Every adult in the country could be vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as Easter as plans are put in place to train an army of careworkers to administer the jab.
It coincides with Boris Johnson's hint last night that the Rule of Six could be suspended on Christmas Day to ensure a family of five can have both grandparents round for festive lunch.
The Prime Minister stressed the Government would do 'everything we can to make sure Christmas for everybody is normal as possible'.
Mr Johnson has often identified a vaccine as the key to being able to lift many of the restrictions imposed on the public since March, but has insisted 'we must never cut corners' or 'sacrifice safety to speed' in the search for one.
It comes just days after it was claimed that Britain's rising coronavirus infection rate may actually speed up vaccine trials and move the world one step closer to eradicating the disease.
But scientists are sceptical and say it could be much longer before full vaccination can be carried out, reported The Times.
Earlier this week, a Royal Society report warned there would be significant challenges in distributing and producing the vaccine on such a mass scale.
Nilay Shah, head of the department of chemical engineering at Imperial College London, and a co-author of the report, said: 'Even when the vaccine is available it doesn't mean within a month everybody is going to be vaccinated.
Boris Johnson, pictured last night, has often identified a vaccine as the key to being able to lift many of the restrictions imposed on the public since March, but has insisted 'we must never cut corners' or 'sacrifice safety to speed' in the search for one
'We're talking about six months, nine months... a year. There's not a question of life suddenly returning to normal in March.'
Oxford University has been running human trials on a vaccine since April and there are hopes it could be approved by regulators by Christmas.
Care home residents and staff will be the first to get a Covid-19 vaccine when one is approved, according to fresh government advice.
Everyone over the age of 80 and NHS staff will be second in line, updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation states.
The body, which consists of 20 top