UK reports record daily total of 33,470 COVID-19 cases

FILE PHOTO: A blackboard is pictured at the entrance of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing centre in Liverpool, Britain November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine

LONDON (Reuters) - The United Kingdom reported 33,470 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the highest daily total to date, as the government struggles to control a second wave of infections.

The death toll in Britain is higher than the other worst-affected countries in Europe. The number of people killed by coronavirus is only higher in the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.

The government also reported 563 new deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, down slightly from 595 the previous day. By the same method of measurement, more than 50,000 people in Britain have died in total.

“It is clear that infection rates have been going up and what is really important is to get those infection rates down - that is what will reduce deaths (and) the pressure on hospitals,” said Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service in England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered England back into a month-long national lockdown amid concerns that a rising number of infections could overwhelm the health service.

The government has been criticised by political opponents for moving too slowly into the two national lockdowns, for a shortage of personal protective equipment and for failing to protect the elderly in care homes.

The number of infections rose sharply in October with double the number of cases reported by the end of the month compared to the beginning ahead of the reintroduction of the latest national lockdown, according to a study on Thursday.

But Britain’s testing capacity has also grown since the peak of the first wave of the virus earlier this year when the government made a decision to abandon testing of most people who did not require hospitalisation.

Reporting by William James. Editing by Andrew MacAskill and Stephen Addison