UK coronavirus death toll hits 51,934 after 168 more fatalities and 24,962 infections recorded in just 24 hours

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 168 today bringing the UK's death toll to 51,934.

As the country battles the second wave of the bug, a further 24,962 have been infected bringing the total number of cases to 1,369,318.

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This comes as the UK suffered 162 deaths on Sunday, November 1 and 156 fatalities the following Sunday.

Infections numbers on those dates were 23,254 on Nov. 1 and 20,572 on Nov. 8.

Figures are generally lower on Sundays because of the way the data is calculated.

Yesterday, after the country suffered its deadliest Saturday since May after 462 more people died and 26,860 were infected.

Today, the UK's top statistician said coronavirus cases are starting to flatten out after the deadly bug's resurgence.

Sir Ian Diamond said the data is showing a "slowdown in the rate of growth" as he provided a glimmer of hope ahead of Christmas amid a national lockdown in England.

The UK's National Statistician told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday the change is "good news" – but said there remains an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

He said: "The good news is – yes – we are seeing a slow down in the rate of growth.

"That means we're still increasing and we are now in England at 1.25 per 1,000. That means that one in 85 people in England, we believe, have the virus.

"In Wales, a little less at one in 100, in Scotland one in 135 and Northern Ireland one in 105.

"So yes we are continuing to increase the numbers, but the rate of growth is slowing."

Experts say the spike in confirmed cases this week was almost certainly due to a "last hurrah" as Brits partied before lockdown hit on November 5.

In the days before the draconian restrictions were imposed, pictures showed revellers spilling out of bars and pubs.

A Government source said: “The dates tally up. It’s very likely it is people who picked up Covid during the last hurrah before lockdown.”

The world has been offered new hope of a world without Covid restrictions after drugs giant Pfizer announced a vaccine breakthrough this week.

And a scientist behind the landmark coronavirus remedy has said he expects life to be back to normal next winter.

Professor Ugur Sahin, co-founder of BioNTech, who developed the vaccine alongside Pfizer, said he expects the first impact of the jab will be felt in the summer months.

Prof Sahin told the BBC he believes the vaccine can reduce transmission and stop symptoms of the killer virus.

He said: "I'm very confident that transmission between people will be reduced by such a highly effective vaccine – maybe not 90% but maybe 50% – but we should not forget that even that could result in a dramatic reduction of the pandemic spread."

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