LONDON - The United Kingdom (UK) has recorded its highest daily death toll of the pandemic, with more than 1,500 people dying within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.

Government figures showed there were 1,564 deaths reported on Wednesday, which is up 50% in a week.

The previous highest daily toll was on Friday, when 1,325 were reported to have died, and the total number of virus casualties now stands at 84,767.

The government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 47,525 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

It brings the total number of cases in the country to 3,211,576.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of "sitting on his hands" for 17 days as coronavirus ripped through the country.

He told the prime minister on Wednesday that this indecision had been costly, with 17,000 people having died from COVID since Johnson declared at the last PMQs of 2020 on 16 December that there had been a significant reduction in the virus.

Starmer asked the PM how he had "got it so wrong and why was he so slow to act" to announce a third national lockdown.

The Labour leader said "clear" advice from government scientific advisers Sage had showed on 18 December that a tougher lockdown would be needed to stop the rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant.

Meanwhile, hospitals across the UK are considering discharging patients early and transferring them to hotels in an attempt to ease pressure on the NHS.

As hospital figures hit a new high in the UK this week, with 35,075 Covid patients on wards as of Monday – a 22% increase from last week – hospital trusts are said to considering putting patients up in nearby hotels, according to The Guardian.

It is hoped that by moving those who are out of danger, the NHS will be able to free up more beds for critical Covid patients.

The Guardian reported that patients are already being transferred from King's College Hospital, London, to a nearby Best Western-branded hotel in Croydon.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC the government was looking at "all options" to help ease the pressures on hospitals but insisted transferring patients to hotels was not yet in their plans.

He later told Sky News: "We'd only ever do that if it was clinically the right thing for somebody."