COVID deaths hit 223 today - the highest since March. The spike comes amid fears of fresh restrictions this winter, as infections topped 43,738.
It comes amid a frantic push to administer as many booster jabs as possible to avoid a fourth lockdown.
Ministers are increasingly worried about the number of new cases which is hurtling towards 50,000 a day.
Hospital admissions are also rising although only steadily, and currently remain below last month's levels.