Covid UK: Daily death toll passes 1,000 for first time since APRIL

Britain today breached 1,000 daily coronavirus deaths for the first time since April and declared another record-high number of cases with 62,322 more positive tests.

Department of Health data shows today's grim figure of 1,041 laboratory-confirmed deaths — only the 10th time the UK has topped the grisly milestone — is UK's highest daily count since April 21. And experts fear the death toll will continue to spiral in line with soaring cases over the past three weeks because fatalities lag behind infections by several weeks because of how long it takes for patients to become severely ill.

Statistics also show it is the third day in a row that Britain has posted a record-high number of cases, following on from the 60,916 announced yesterday and the 58,784 the day before. The figure is also 24.6 per cent up on last Wednesday's count of 50,023.

The shocking data underlines the seriousness of the situation the UK finds itself in and come after Boris Johnson desperately tried to win over furious Tory MPs as he defended his new national coronavirus lockdown and insisted he had 'no choice' but to impose tough new draconian curbs.

No10 is now desperately trying to speed up its mass vaccination programme, which is considered the only way to escape the never-ending cycle of lockdowns. The Prime Minister pledged to vaccinate the most at-risk 13million Britons by mid-February with the ambition of easing restrictions — but today he conceded there would not be a 'big bang' release from the current national lockdown. 

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The PM today revealed seven mass coronavirus vaccination centres will open next week to turbo-charge efforts to get jabs to millions of people, with the make-shift sites operated by NHS staff and volunteers. 

But politicians fear he may have over-promised with his pledge, with ministers already trying to shift the blame for disruptions to the initial supply of vaccines, with Boris Johnson first saying the hold-up was due to quality checks done by regulators and Matt Hancock trying to pin difficulties on limited manufacturing supply.

Pharmacists have called for their shops to be used to dish out the jabs and asked the NHS to use its 'invisible army' of volunteers to ensure up to 3million are vaccinated each week. And Former prime minister Tony Blair published a 'blueprint' and urged No10 throw all its weight behind the vaccine programme, insisting scaling up the scheme 'is not complicated'. 

Defending England's third national lockdown, the Prime Minister told a recalled House of Commons that his hand had been forced after a new variant of the disease was found to be spreading with 'frightening ease'. Mr Johnson said No10's mass inoculation programme meant nearly one quarter of over-80s had already received jabs and England had vaccinated more people 'than in the rest of Europe combined'. 

The Prime Minister, pictured leaving 10 Downing St, told a recalled House of Commons that his hand had been forced after a new variant of the disease was found to be spreading with 'frightening ease'

The Prime Minister, pictured leaving 10 Downing St, told a recalled House of Commons that his hand had been forced after a new variant of the disease was found to be spreading with 'frightening ease'

The Prime Minister's national shutdown, which includes a strict stay at home message and the closure of schools, is due to be reviewed in the middle of February but the laws underpinning it are not due to expire until the end of March.

Mr Johnson has said he hopes the rules can start to be lifted in the spring but he has failed to give a firm commitment, fuelling Tory fears that the restrictions could be in place far longer than the initial seven weeks.

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Mr Johnson stressed that when rules are eased there will be a 'gradual unwrapping' of lockdown rather than an immediate end as he dashed hopes of a swift return to normal life.

Senior Tories accused the Prime Minister of launching an 'assault on liberty and livelihoods' as they warned lockdown will inevitably cause some people to 'break'.

Mr Hancock ducked demands to give a firm end point for lockdown as he suggested that even if the vaccine rollout happens by mid-February, curbs might have to stay if deaths do not fall.

The Health Secretary came under fire from his own side as he kicked off the debate on the regulations underpinning the brutal squeeze - which has already come into effect. 

In another day of coronavirus chaos:

Britain's COVID crackdown began as pictures showed masked cops handcuffing pensioners and protesters 'breaking lockdown rules', with police officers stopping cars to quiz drivers; Former prime minister Tony Blair said the UK needs to dramatically accelerate its Covid vaccination scheme in order to lift lockdown rules in the spring, saying it was 'not complicated' to ramp-up the programme; Matt Hancock said teachers have a 'very strong case' to be next in line to receive the coronavirus vaccine, as the Health Secretary told MPs ministers are currently considering the rest of the priority order;   A GP on the frontline of Britain's coronavirus vaccine push revealed doctors have still not received doses that were supposed to arrive last month, amid fears Boris Johnson has over-promised with his pledge; Europe's drug regulator approved Moderna's Covid vaccine and will get supplies from next week thanks to a deal it struck in summer last year — but Britain will miss out and won't get any until the spring;  The World Health Organization refused to give its blessing to Britain's controversial plan to space the two doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine by more than a month; Boris Johnson was accused of leaving a 'substantial gap in the nation's defences' against coronavirus by delaying rules on people needing a negative test before entering the UK; Gavin Williamson was under pressure to explain how teachers will be able to accurately grade GCSEs and A-levels for pupils after the 2021 exams were cancelled due to Covid; Politicians and experts blasted China for refusing entry to members of a World Health Organization(WHO) team being sent to the country to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic; Doctors may have to decide which severely ill patients to treat based on a 'lottery' if the NHS is overwhelmed this winter under draft Covid rationing plans; The organiser of Clap for Carers is calling for a return to the weekly round of applause during England's third national lockdown - starting from 8pm tomorrow.

Mr Johnson made clear that a successful roll-out of the vaccine programme will be key to determining when the lockdown measures can be lifted. 

He said: 'We have already vaccinated more people in this country than in the rest of Europe combined and we will give the House the maximum possible transparency about our acceleration of this effort, publishing daily updates online from Monday so that jab by jab honourable members can scrutinise the process being made every day. 

Above are the locations of the seven mass vaccination centres that will begin operating from next week. They were revealed today by the Prime Minister

Above are the locations of the seven mass vaccination centres that will begin operating from next week. They were revealed today by the Prime Minister

GP dishing out Covid jab says they have had NO doses despite being 'raring to go'

A GP on the frontline of Britain's great coronavirus vaccine push has revealed doctors have still not received doses that were supposed to arrive last month, amid fears Boris Johnson has over-promised with his pledge to jab 13million Brits and end lockdown by March.

Dr Rosemary Leonard, an NHS family doctor who works in South London, said her practices were 'raring to go' and had been waiting on their first batch of vaccinations since December 28.

But she claimed the delivery date has been pushed back three times already, with the first doses now not due to arrive until January 15, more than a fortnight late.

Dr Leonard, who also writes a column for the Daily Express newspaper, warned the vaccine roll out was becoming a 'postcode lottery for patients', and believes the delay is the result of 'central supply issues'.

Despite being just days into the rollout of the Oxford vaccine, there has already been finger-pointing between the Government, regulators and the jab's manufacturer AstraZeneca over who is to blame for the delays.

Matt Hancock and NHS bosses have suggested manufacturing has been too slow, while the Prime Minister has blamed the UK's stringent batch testing rules which mean every deliver of vaccine needs to be quality checked.

It comes as independent pharmacists begged the Government to let small chains dish out vaccinations to help Number 10 fulfill its ambitious vaccine promises, which will require jabbing a mammoth 3million Brits a week.

MailOnline has spoken to at least half a dozen membership bodies which claim there are 11,000 pharmacies 'ready, willing and able' to assist in the rollout of the programme. They say they are being held back by more Government red tape.

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'Yet as we take this giant leap towards finally overcoming the virus and reclaiming our lives we have to contend with the new variant which is between 50 and 70 per cent more contagious. 

'The tiers the House agreed last month, was working with the old variant but alas, this mutation spreading with frightening ease and speed in spite of the sterling work of the British public, this mutation has led to more cases than we have seen ever before, numbers that alas cannot be explained away by the meteoric rise in testing.'

But fears are growing that the Prime Minister may have over-promised with his pledge to jab 13million Britons by mid-February. 

A GP on the frontline of Britain's great coronavirus vaccine push today revealed doctors have still not received doses that were supposed to arrive last month.

Dr Rosemary Leonard, an NHS family doctor who works in South London, said her practices were 'raring to go' and had been waiting on their first batch of vaccinations since December 28.

But she claimed the delivery date has been pushed back three times already, with the first doses now not due to arrive until January 15, more than a fortnight late.

Dr Leonard warned the vaccine roll out was becoming a 'postcode lottery for patients', and believes the delay is the result of 'central supply issues'.

Despite being just days into the rollout of the Oxford vaccine, there has already been finger-pointing between the Government, regulators and the jab's manufacturer AstraZeneca over who is to blame for the delays.

Matt Hancock and NHS bosses have suggested manufacturing has been too slow, while the Prime Minister has blamed the UK's stringent batch testing rules which mean every deliver of vaccine needs to be quality checked.

It comes as independent pharmacists begged the Government to let small chains dish out vaccinations to help Number 10 fulfill its ambitious vaccine promises, which will require jabbing a mammoth 3million Brits a week.

MailOnline has spoken to at least half a dozen membership bodies which claim there are 11,000 pharmacies 'ready, willing and able' to assist in the rollout of the programme. They say they are being held back by more Government red tape.

Meanwhile, the high street has also thrown its weight behind the rollout of the mass vaccination scheme to get life back to normal by spring. 

Bensons for Beds today revealed it has written to the Government, offering all 250 of its stores across the UK to serve as temporary vaccination centres. And the owner of the London nightclub G-A-Y claimed this morning he'd written to Westminster Council putting forward his venue.

So far only 1.3million people in the UK have been vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech jabs since the programme launched a month ago. There is a growing clamour today for the process to be ramped up dramatically - with concerns that local chemists and other facilities are not being used enough.

In an attempt to justify the decision to send England into its third national lockdown, Mr Johnson also said the ONS report published yesterday showing the extent of infections across the country as well as rising hospitalisations showed it was 'inescapable that the facts are changing and we must change our response'.

Dr Rosemary Leonard, an NHS family doctor who works in South London, said her practices were 'raring to go' and had been waiting on their first batch of vaccinations since December 28.

Britain was the first country to start vaccinating members of the public against Covid-19 and has now given jabs to more than 1.3million people, but has had to begin a controversial strategy of stretching the gaps between doses in a bid to protect the elderly from an out-of-control second wave (Pictured: Joan Barnes, 88, gets a vaccine at a drive-through in Manchester)

Dr Rosemary Leonard (left), an NHS family doctor who works in South London, said her practices were 'raring to go' and had been waiting on their first batch of vaccinations since December 28. But she claimed the delivery date has been pushed back three times already, with the first doses now not due to arrive until January 15, more than a fortnight late

Gavin Williamson confirms TEACHERS will decide GCSE and A-Level grades

Teachers will decide school pupils' GCSE, A-level and AS-level grades this summer after exams were scrapped due to Covid-related school closures, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed today.

The exams that

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