UK hits highest daily COVID-19 cases at 6,634, partly due to more tests

A council worker wearing a safety vest marked 'social distancing champion' walks through the town centre following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wrexham, Britain, September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain recorded its highest number of daily cases of COVID-19 on Thursday at 6,634, according to government data, reflecting a second wave of infections sweeping through the country but also a much higher level of testing than during the first wave.

Thursday’s number was up from 6,178 on Wednesday, itself a jump from 4,926 the previous day.

Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government estimated fewer than 10,000 people were becoming infected every day, as opposed to estimated numbers over 100,000 during the peak of the first wave.

“(At the peak), we estimate through surveys that over 100,000 people a day were catching the disease, but we only found about 6,000 of them and they tested positive,” he said in an interview on Sky News.

“Now we estimate that it’s under 10,000 people a day getting the disease. That’s too high, but it’s still much lower than in the peak.”

While testing capacity has increased dramatically since the first wave, the system has nevertheless been under strain, with many people reporting they were unable to get tests, or had to travel long distances. Delays in getting results back have also led to criticism of the system.

Public Health England said there had also been 40 new deaths, up from 37 the day before. At the peak of the pandemic, Britain was reporting more than 1,000 deaths per day.

Britain has the highest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe, at 41,902.

Reporting by William James, David Milliken and Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison