Covid cases hit 45,066 – highest since July – as Chris Whitty warns of 'exceptionally difficult' winter

THE UK has recorded a further 45,066 cases today – the highest figure since July – ahead of an "exceptionally difficult winter".

The daily number of positive tests hasn't been this high since July 20 – when cases hit 46,558.

And the number of deaths has also soared on Thursday as another 157 fatalities are recorded – 10.7 per cent higher than last week.

It is the second highest reported by the Government this week after Tuesday's figure hit 181.

It also marks a 26.7 per cent rise week-on-week, after 122 fatalities were seen last Thursday.

It comes as the NHS braces for an "exceptionally difficult" winter even if Covid remains at bay following warnings from Prof Chris Whitty.

England's top doc said flu and other seasonal bugs mean medics will be swamped regardless of the pandemic. 

But he stressed that only a tiny amount has to go wrong with coronavirus for hospitals to buckle under a flood of cases.

In a bleak forecast, he said: "I wish I could claim that there's sunlit uplands and it'll be fantastic by Christmas – but sadly I'm afraid that is not the case."

Infection rates are hovering at around 40,000 per day but vaccines have dampened current daily hospitalisations to flatline at around 700, and deaths at around 100. 

A vaccine campaign for vulnerable Brits to get their flu jabs alongside their Covid booster is currently underway.

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