Britain has reported 42,302 new coronavirus cases and 49 more deaths in the latest 24-hour period, according to government data on Wednesday. The figures compare with 36,660 COVID-19 infections and 50 deaths recorded on Tuesday, and 32,548 cases and 33 fatalities announced this time last week. It is the highest number of daily infections since 15 January, when 55,761 cases were recorded.
It comes as most parts of the UK are set to lift all lockdown restrictions from next Monday and UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that two-thirds of adults in Britain have now received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. "Two-thirds of adults across the UK have now had two jabs. We have beaten our target by almost a week this is a huge achievement. Thank you to everyone who has come forward, Javid said on Twitter.
"The vaccine is our wall of defence against the virus," he said. The government had delayed lifting most lockdown rules until July 19 so two-thirds of adults could be double-jabbed, and every adult could be offered a first vaccine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also took to Twitter to mark the milestone and thank people for "coming forward" and "helping others get jabbed". "Barely 8 months since the first vaccine, 2/3 of UK adults have had both doses, said Johnson.
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"Thank you to everyone coming forward and to those helping others get jabbed. You are the reason we are able to cautiously ease restrictions next week. If you're over 18, book both your jabs now," he said. Latest data from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) shows a total of 81,192,857 doses have been administered in the UK, with 46,037,090 people receiving a first dose (87.4 per cent) and 35,155,767 people receiving both doses (66.7 per cent). It is hoped that the vaccinations will help keep the rate of hospitalisations and death low even as the infections, largely from the Delta variant of COVID-19, continue to rise.