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UK reports 51,870 new COVID cases and 49 more deaths

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The UK has reported 51,870 new COVID-19 cases in the latest 24-hour period – the highest number since 15 January, according to government figures.

Some 49 deaths were also confirmed during the same period.

It comes just days before the government is expected to ease all social distancing restrictions and mask-wearing rules in England, despite protests from medical experts.

On Thursday there were 63 deaths and 48,553 new COVID-19 cases confirmed and 42,302 new infections were confirmed on Wednesday, along with 49 fatalities.

Earlier on Friday, it was confirmed that England’s R number had dropped slightly to between 1.2 and 1.4, despite the increase in coronavirus infection rates.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that more than half a million people in private households in England are likely to have had COVID-19 in the week to 10 July.

This is equivalent to approximately one in 95 people in England.

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The drive to vaccinate as many people as possible continues ahead of Monday, when England is expected to have the last restrictions eased.

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Government data up to 15 July shows that of the 81,702,466 jabs given in the UK, 46,159,145 were first doses, a rise of 61,681 on the previous day.

Some 35,543,321 were second doses, an increase of 201,893.

More than two-thirds of adults have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, and hundreds of thousands more people are being urged to bring forward their second dose of a vaccine.

Text messages are being sent to 650,000 people telling them they should make sure their second vaccine appointment is no more than eight weeks after their first.