UK coronavirus cases rise by 3,395 with 21 more deaths as test shortages strike

UK coronavirus cases have risen by 3,395 with 21 more deaths – as test shortages strike across the country.

Brits have struggled to book appointments to get tested due to a backlog of about 240,000 swabs.

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Nearly 4,000 people tested positive for Covid in the last 24 hours – the biggest daily increase in 18 weeks.

Centres in Southend, Essex and Edmonton, north London were flooded by people this morning eager to get swabbed.

NHS England said 18 patients had died in its hospitals, while Wales recorded three fatalities. 

A total of 290 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland in the past 24 hours, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

No deaths of confirmed Covid-19 patients have been recorded in the past 24 hours and the number of fatalities remains at 2,501.

Scores of coronavirus hotspots have emerged in large swathes of the country in recent weeks as cases rise and infection rates go up.

As a result, several regions – including Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester – have been plunged into lockdown or given restrictions that limit households mixing and curfews.

Today the North East became the latest area to be slapped with tougher new rules, with households banned from mixing, 10pm curfews imposed and restaurants and cafes limited to offering table service only.

In an exclusive interview, the PM said: "I’ve got to tell you that right now 20 per cent of the country is in some sort of social lockdown, the sheer weight of areas that now have some sort of restriction."

He stressed the need to "work together" to flatten the curve as we did when the UK was plunged into lockdown in March 23, adding: "We got it done in the spring, we massively depressed the hump and we will do it again."

It came after reports Professor Chris Whitty wants a second two-week national lockdown, as the true number of coronavirus cases could have soared to 38,000-a-day amid the testing shambles.

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