UK coronavirus cases today grew by 65 per cent in a week after another 33,364 infections were recorded as the mutant strain continues to spread.

Another 215 deaths were recorded with the UK's death toll now sitting at 67,616.

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A total of 2,073,511 cases have now been recorded across the UK with today's number of daily infections the fourth highest.

The new figures come after daily deaths and infections doubled in just a week yesterday with cases recording the highest rise ever as 35,928 infections and 326 deaths were recorded.

And this time last week, another 20,263 cases were recorded alongside 232 deaths.

Showing the worrying rise, two weeks ago 14,718 new cases were reported while another 172 deaths were recorded in 24 hours.

The increase in cases is feared to have come from the new mutant strain of Covid-19 – with authorities warning it is believed to be 70% more infectious.

And as concerns around the new strain emerged, the UK has faced being cut off by a string of countries in Europe including France and Italy as foreign authorities desperately try to stop the variant from spreading to their own regions.

France shut the border with the UK – forcing lorries with goods to line up for hours on both sides.

It was feared food supplies may be affected within hours by the border closures with Sainsburys warning about veg and fruit in the run up to Christmas.

Already in the UK, areas already gripped by the new strain have seen infections grow – with Thurrock in Essex seeing its case rate nearly treble in just seven days.

The Tier 4 area's current incidence rate of 1,056 cases per 100,000 is three times higher than the figure of 387.2 reported the previous week.

Meanwhile infections in many London boroughs have increased by almost 150 per cent while the new strain of mutant coronavirus was blamed for the surge.

Millions of Brits had their Christmases cancelled this year as the government put London and the South East in lockdown in an attempt to control the new strain of the virus.

Those in Tier 4 areas have been told not to travel out, while they should not have any overnight stays and cannot meet anyone for Christmas.

But public health leader Dr Susan Hopkins warned the new mutated form of Covid sweeping London and the South East is already in every other region of the UK.

She said every other part of the region has had cases detected in small numbers and risk seeing a similar explosion if infections are allowed to spread further.

Asked if the Tier 4 restrictions were likely to last until Easter, the PM's official spokesman said: "We will obviously continue to keep the latest scientific data and transmission rate of the virus under review.

"We obviously won't keep these rules in place any longer than is necessary, but it's important (we) continue to look at the scientific data and evidence in order to inform our (decisions), but I would stress the important thing is for people to follow the rules."

He added: "We've introduced Tier 4… specifically to drive down the transmission rate of the new variant and to reduce the R rate."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also suggested Tier 4 rules could stay in place for months – until the vaccination is rolled out to the most vulnerable people.

It has fuelled fears, Tier 4 could be extended to other parts of the UK, as frantic Londoners tried to escape the capital ahead of the new lockdown.

Speaking about the new strain of the virus, Professor Openshaw of Imperial College London, a member of Government advisory committee Nervtag, told The Times: "It’s very unlikely anything less than really effective measures are going to control it."

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