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UK reports more than 7,000 new COVID cases for second day in a row

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The UK has reported more than 7,000 new COVID-19 cases for a second consecutive day, according to government data.

7,393 infections were recorded in the latest 24-hour period, along with seven more coronavirus-related deaths.

The figures compare with 7,540 cases and six deaths announced yesterday, and 5,274 cases and 18 deaths reported this time last week.

Wednesday marked the highest number of daily infections for four months.

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Delta variant, first detected in India, now makes up 91% of cases in the UK.

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Meanwhile, government data also showed another 176,559 people had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, while 316,258 had their second jab.

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The number fully vaccinated now stands at 28,857,102, while 40,886,878 people have had at least one jab.

The latest figures come on the day Mr Hancock was questioned by the Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee.

Mr Hancock told MPs that an earlier lockdown last year would have gone against scientific advice and disclosed a “reasonable worst-case scenario” calculated at the end of January 2020 predicted over 800,000 deaths.

The health secretary was questioned two weeks after Dominic Cummings, the PM’s former chief aide, claimed Mr Hancock “should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things including lying”.

Mr Hancock struck back at the committee hearing, saying the government has improved since the ex-adviser’s departure from No 10.

Mr Cummings had alleged the health secretary’s claim he put a “shield” around care homes early on in the pandemic was “complete nonsense”.

He said Mr Hancock told the PM “categorically in March that people will be tested before they went back to care homes”.

But Mr Hancock told the committee: “We set out a policy that people would be tested when tests were available, then I set about building the testing capacity for us to be able to deliver on that.”

Yesterday, Boris Johnson said the effectiveness of the vaccine rollout will determine whether the UK enters phase four of the roadmap for lockdown easing on 21 June, as Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick cast doubt over the reopening.

New figures from NHS England revealed the number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment has topped five million – the highest ever.

In total, 5.12 million people were waiting to begin treatment at the end of April 2021, the highest since records began in August 2007.

The numbers increased every month since May 2020, when it was 3.83 million.