CORONAVIRUS cases have risen by 50 per cent in a week as another 18,450 people tested positive in the past 24 hours.
Another 506 fatalities were recorded, bringing the total to 64,908.
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Today's case load is 50 per cent higher than the figure reported last Tuesday of 12,282.
But it is lower than the 20,263 cases recorded yesterday.
The rise in cases means that a total of 1,888,116 Brits have tested positive for the bug.
It comes as:
- The PM is under pressure to change Christmas bubble rules as Labour today demanded a review
- Brits winter travel plans were left in tatters as the government's 'test to release' scheme fell apart on day one
- Shocking new figures showed redundancies surge to record highs amid the pandemic, with 1.7 million now unemployed
- Europe is preparing to shut down for the festive period as fears grow over the UK relaxing restrictions
- Chaos for parents as London borough reopens schools 2 days before Christmas break
Meanwhile, separate figures from NHS England showed a further 293 deaths in English hospitals.
The Midlands saw the highest figure with 75 fatalities, while Yorkshire recorded 63 deaths and London 31.
A further six people with Covid-19 died in Northern Ireland, bringing the region's toll to 1,135.
Scotland recorded 24 deaths of coronavirus patients, while Wales reported a further nine deaths.
It comes as pressure grows on the government to ditch festive bubble plans amid growing unease from medical experts.
Under plans agreed across the UK, up to three households will be able to form a "Christmas bubble" and meet between 23 and 27 December.
But in comments which threaten to throw the UK's Christmas plans into chaos, Scottish First minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested it could be changed as a result of recent events.
The Scottish First Minister said she'd asked for an emergency summit to look at "whether any additional precautions are necessary… including whether there should be any change over the Christmas period".
She added: "I would urge the utmost caution, if you can avoid mixing with other households over Christmas than please do so."
It comes after top doctors at the British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal published a joint editorial calling on the Government to stop Christmas household mixing to protect the NHS.
And this afternoon Labour joined medics in demanding an emergency review of the relaxation of the rules – to see it was safe for people to meet up over the holidays.
Countries across Europe have imposed harsh rules stretching across the festive period in a bid to stem transmission of the bug.
Italians will not be allowed to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve this year and people must be home in time for the 10pm curfew.
People are also not allowed to travel between regions between December 21 and January 6.
And in France, President Emmanuel Macron has imposed a harsh 8pm-6am curfew for every night from now until mid-January.
Museums, theatres, cinemas, restaurants, bars and cafes will all be forced to stay shut over the holiday period.
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