DAILY Covid cases in the UK have jumped more than 30 per cent in a fortnight.
A further 40,004 fresh infections were reported in the latest 24-hour period, compared to 30,305 on November 7.
It is a 32 per cent rise in two weeks, and a 10 per cent increase in the last seven days.
It means a total of 9,845,492 positive results have been returned since the pandemic began.
Another 61 coronavirus deaths were also recorded in today's figures.
It brings the UK's virus death toll to a grim 143,927.
Despite rising cases, Sajid Javid today confirmed the country is "firmly" on track for a lockdown-free Christmas.
The Health Secretary brushed off the need for the government's Covid Plan B – but added that ministers must "remain cautious, not complacent in any way" as virus panic sweeps across Europe.
Speaking on Trevor Phillips On Sunday, he said he hoped people can "look forward to Christmas together" as England has the "right measures" in place to curb infections.
But he warned that Covid "can be very unpredictable" and the government "needs to be ready" to act.
Mr Javid added: "We’ve said all along that we’ve got Plan A, and that’s where we firmly are at the moment.
"If we needed to take further measures with Plan B then we would do so, but we're not at that point."
The preferred Plan A, announced in September, focuses on jabs, testing and border controls and will be followed if the number of infections remains manageable and the NHS is not overwhelmed.
However, as soon as the health service starts to struggle, Plan B measures – such as face masks, vaccine passports and working from home – will be reintroduced.
There is even a dreaded Plan C which would ban mixing between households and be akin to last year's festive disaster.
It comes as…
- Germany is set to make Covid vaccines compulsory following Austria as Europe is left crippled by virus surge & lockdown riots
- Terror cops warn jihadis are falling under radar due to Covid as the number reported falls by FIFTH in 1 year
- Test and Trace is being DISMANTLED cutting 10,000 jobs after £37billion is wasted on the flop Covid tracking system
- Booster jabs are ‘to be offered to under-40s’ in a bid to fight off a winter Covid wave
- Kids as young as five are set to be offered Covid jabs within months under secret NHS plans
- Schools forced to cancel Christmas school lunches and concerts for kids
- A double jabbed NHS doctor who died of Covid after spending months away from family missed his booster by days, wife reveals
Mr Javid's comments come as infections soar across the continent, with cases surging by two million in just a week.
Five European countries face new lockdowns in days, following in the footsteps of the Netherlands and Austria which announced new restrictions this week.
The Netherlands revealed the reintroduction of coronavirus measures last weekend after record-level daily infections.
Hundreds of Dutch protesters were blasted with water cannons as they lobbed stones and fireworks at police in fury at the reintroduction of the rules.
Elsewhere, Austria plunges into a lockdown from Monday after the number of people with Covid in the past fortnight shot up to 1959.88 per 100,000.
Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia could all follow suit as cases surge to new highs.
Today's data also revealed the UK has dished out more than 15 million booster jabs or third doses.
A combined total of 15,064,693 booster and third doses have been given, a day-on-day rise of 450,080.
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