Coronavirus cases surpass 50,000 for SIXTH day in a row as Boris warns of Tier 5

Boris Johnson hints at possible tighter lockdown restrictions

On Sunday, 54,990 infections were added to the tally while a further 454 people died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19. The Prime Minister said stricter rules known as Tier 5 could be rolled out to contain the spread of the virus. The record number of coronavirus cases is fuelled by a new and more transmissible variant of the virus.

Sunday’s rise came after a record high was announced on Saturday, when 57,725 infections were recorded within 24 hours. 

On Wednesday the UK recorded its highest ever daily death toll with 981 fatalities. 

Much of England is already living under the toughest level of restriction under a four-tier system of regional regulations designed to stop the spread of the virus and protect the national healthcare system.

But, asked in a BBC interview about concerns that the system may not be enough to bring the virus under control, Mr Johnson admitted restrictions “alas, might be about to get tougher”.

He added: “There are obviously a range of tougher measures that we would have to consider … I’m not going to speculate now about what they would be.”

Mr Johnson sets policy for England, with rules in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales set by their devolved authorities.

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The grim figures came as school prepare to welcome pupils and staff back on Monday, following the Christmas holidays. 

Ministers have come under fire from teaching unions for pushing ahead with plans to reopen schools in most parts of England. 

Schools in London as well as those in Brighton and Hove in East Sussex will not reopen due to high levels of COVID-19. 

Mr Johnson insisted it would be safe for children to head back into classrooms in regions where schools are reopening. 

He advised parents to send their children to school in areas where rules allow it.

He said: “There is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe, and that education is a priority.”

This is a breaking news story… More to follow.

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