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The UK has reported 5,765 new coronavirus cases today as infections soared by 70% in just one week.
Last Saturday health chiefs announced 3,398 Covid infections, with cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus soaring in the past week.
Yesterday's daily Covid figures revealed 6,238 new cases – the highest number since late March.
The UK also recorded a further 13 deaths today, up from seven last Saturday.
However the UK's vaccination drive is continuing full steam ahead and the country today announced it had administered more than 40 million first doses of the vaccine.
More than 27 million Brits have also received their second jab.
Coronavirus cases are 70% up on last Saturday today
(Image: Getty Images)
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: "This latest milestone (40 million first doses) in our ongoing fight against coronavirus gives us another welcome opportunity to thank everyone in the NHS working flat out to deliver the biggest vaccination programme in our history.
"They are protecting millions of people at speed and saving thousands of lives.
"There has never been a more important time to get protected so when it's your turn and you're contacted by the NHS, book your jab or bring forward your second dose."
More than 40 million first doses of the vaccine have now been administered in the UK
(Image: Getty Images)
It comes after new figures showed infection rates are on the rise in 217 areas – or 69% of the country – as the Indian variant eclipses the mutation that first emerged in Kent to become the UK's dominant strain.
Many areas recording rises have fewer than ten cases to begin with, and some – such as the North Yorkshire district of Ryedale, have recorded no cases at all in weeks.
But Indian variant hotspot Lancashire continues to record growing infections rates, with the county's towns now dominating cases tables.
Infection rates remain high in Bolton, Greater Manchester, but its numbers are showing promising signs of reversal after weeks of surge testing and concentrated vaccination efforts.
People queuing for vaccines in Bolton as the town battles a surge in cases of the Indian variant
(Image: MEN MEDIA)
Authorities are racing to contain the spread of the strain as case numbers soared yesterday to the highest levels recorded in three months.
It comes as the UK's 'R' rate rose to between 1 and 1.2 on Friday, meaning that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 10 to 12 other people.
Public Health England (PHE) figures showed this week that the North West of England is recording the highest numbers of new cases.
Meanwhile, the government has cracked down on travel by axing Portugal from the UK's green list and moving seven more countries on to the red list.
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Ministers cited the threat of new variants spreading in their decision-making, saying the priority was 'safety first' to ensure the planned June 21 unlocking of restrictions can go ahead.
A government source says that while officials remain eager to ease restrictions within weeks, they are also drawing up alternative options as doubts grow, according to reports.
Despite this, the source told Sky News they still expect the June 21 unlocking to go ahead.
Portugal has been taken off the UK's 'green list'
(Image: Corbis via Getty Images)
Ministers are said to be looking at keeping some measures to curb the spread of the virus as restrictions ease further.
They include delaying the end of official work from home recommendations, and maintaining face mask rules.
Reports earlier this week suggested advice to employers to keep staff out of the workplace could linger beyond the end of June.
Sky reports decision-makers are discussing retaining retaining orders for the public to wear face masks in certain settings and continuing the work from home advice.
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis thanked NHS workers as the UK passed 40 million first doses
The source suggested such measures could linger even as previously shut sections of the hospitality sector like night clubs and mass events reopen.
"It would be remiss of us to take a decision without a full set of data as evidence," the source told the broadcaster.
"Of course officials are drawing up other options but we are still expecting to be in a place to go ahead on June 21."
But an expert on an advisory group to the Government warned it is clear that it would be "foolish" and a "major risk" to go ahead with the June 21 reopening.