The UK has recorded its highest daily death toll of the pandemic, after over 1,500 more people died within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test.
Government figures showed there were 1,564 COVID deaths reported on Wednesday, which is up 50% in a week.
The previous highest daily toll was on Friday, when 1,325 were reported to have died, and the total number of coronavirus casualties now stands at 84,767.
As of 9am on Wednesday, there had also been a further 47,525 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, the government said.
It brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 3,211,576.
Watch: UK reports highest daily increase in coronavirus deaths
More than 100,000 deaths have now been linked to coronavirus, according to analysis by the PA news agency.
The total is based on the most up-to-date statistics for people who had COVID-19 recorded on their death certificate, plus deaths known to have occurred more recently.
Independent Sage member Professor Christina Pagel blamed the record number of deaths on the government’s policy in December.
She tweeted: “Not really any words – it's not surprising or shocking. Anyone looking at case numbers & hospitalisations over last few weeks knew this was coming.
“But it is horrifying and an unforgivable failure of government policy in December.”
Before Christmas, the prime minister decided to allow some festive mixing of households despite its scientific advisers warning "any relaxation" of restrictions would lead to a potentially large increase in infections.
Ministers were also urged by scientists to not reopen schools after the holiday but Johnson continued to insist they were safe, before making a U-turn just one day after they opened.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of “sitting on his hands” for 17 days as coronavirus ripped through the country.
He told the prime minister on Wednesday that this indecision had been costly, and that 17,000 people had died from COVID since Johnson declared at the last PMQs of 2020 on 16 December that there had been a significant reduction in the virus.
Starmer asked the PM how he had “got it so wrong and why was he so slow to act” to announce a third national lockdown.
The Labour leader said “clear” advice from the government’s scientific advisers showed on 18 December that a tougher lockdown would be needed to stop the rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant.
Meanwhile, hospitals across the UK are considering discharging patients early and transferring them to hotels in an attempt to ease pressure on the NHS.
As hospital figures hit a new high in the UK this week, with 35,075 COVID patients on wards as of Monday, it is hoped that by moving those who are out of danger, the NHS will be able to free up more beds for critical COVID patients.
The Guardian reported that patients are already being transferred from King's College Hospital, London, to a nearby Best Western-branded hotel in Croydon.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC the government was looking at “all options” to help ease the pressures on hospitals but insisted transferring patients to hotels was not yet in their plans.
He later told Sky News: “We’d only ever do that if it was clinically the right thing for somebody.”
Watch: What is long COVID?