The UK on Wednesday recorded its deadliest day since April with 981 COVID fatalities and 50,000 more cases, as another 20million people were plunged into the toughest restrictions in a desperate attempt to control the spiralling second wave.

The percentage of people testing positive for the new variant is increasing in every region across England, data shows, while other variants of the virus either fall or remain steady. There has been a 40 per cent increase in cases in England in the last week alone and almost 15 per cent more patients in hospital.

In London, the east of England and the south east the data shows a sharp rise in the percentage of people testing positive for the new variant. Across the rest of the country the data appears to show the percentage of people testing positive for the new variant is set to eclipse other variants.

Now the US must try to curb the same mutant strain which researchers estimate is 50 per cent to 70 per cent more contagious, adding an even more increased sense of urgency to the nation’s vaccination drive against COVID-19, which has killed more than 340,000 people in the U.S.