THE number of people testing positive for coronavirus in the UK has DROPPED - as Brits brace for a second national lockdown.
Cases have plunged by 2,000 on last Monday as 18,950 more contract the deadly bug and 136 people die.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updatesThe number of Brits testing positive for coronavirus has dropped by 2,000 week-on-week People in England are preparing to head into another lockdown this weekCredit: PA:Press Association Wales is already mid-way through a 17-day 'firebreak' shut down which has seen cars turned away at the border Credit: PA:Press Association Shoppers in Bromley went to buy Christmas presents after learning non-essential stores will close Credit: London News Pictures
This time last week, 20,890 people tested positive, and 102 lost their lives.
Today's grim tally comes 23,254 positive tests yesterday - the highest Sunday total ever recorded in the country.
And 162 deaths were also recorded yesterday - higher than the number of people reported to have lost their lives today.
It could mean strict new three-tier measures to control transmissions are finally starting to work.
It comes as:Another SAGE adviser said the lockdown should last LONGER if schools stay open - as militant unions and Andy Burnham said they should Another recommended that secondary school students wear masks in classroooms - following Scotland Rishi Sunak would only say he "hoped" that the lockdown would end on December 2 Boris Johnson pulled out of a keynote speech at the CBI this morning to work on staving off a Tory rebellion The Queen and Prince Philip return to 'HMS Bubble' in Windsor for lockdown two New Government guidance reveals pregnant women, anyone over the age of 60 and obese people should avoid contact with others
In total, more than a million people in Britain have now officially been infected with the deadly bug.
A further 118 people have died in hospitals in England.
Patients were aged between 43 and 102, and all but two - who were aged 62 and 72 - had known underlying health conditions.
The north-east and Yorkshire bore the brunt of the deaths, with 36 fatalities.
Meanwhile, 29 people died in the north-west, 26 in the Midlands, 12 in London, eight in the east of England, five in the south-east and two in the south-west.
In Scotland, 951 new cases were reported overnight, and no new deaths have been recorded - although officials responsible for registering the deaths close their offices at the weekend.
And in Wales, 1,646 people tested positive, and three died.
People in England will go into lockdown on Thursday - as the Welsh prepare to leave a 17-day firebreak shutdown.
The decision to shut non-essential shops and ask Brits not to travel comes after Government scientists suggested there could be 4,000 deaths a day in England alone by early December.
But some experts say the forecasts for death tolls are out of date and could be four times too high.
Professor Carl Heneghan, director of Oxford University's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, said: "I cannot understand why they have used this data, when there are far more up-to-date forecasts from Cambridge that they could have accessed, which show something very different.
"It is a fast-changing situation, which is very different in different regions, and it concerns me that MPs who are about to go to a vote are not getting the full picture.”MPs will vote on plans for a new shutdown - but it's expected the measure will come into force this week Only key workers will be able to leave home to go to work until at least December 2
Elsewhere, it's been claimed that lags in the crucial R rate could lead to the UK facing a much longer lockdown.
The data, used to determine the estimated weekly figure, has a time delay of up to three weeks.
It means that it could be the end of the month before a national lockdown starts to show any impact on the crucial figure.
On Friday, Sage scientists estimated the UK's R rate to be between 1.1 and 1.3.
But separate research by Imperial College London, published on Thursday, suggested the value could be much higher - at almost 3 in London and above 2 in the south.
And as today's latest figures on deaths were released, Boris Johnson was facing a showdown with rebels from his own party over plans for the shutdown.
MPs have blasted the measures as "evil" and warned they will "ruin lives".
If MPs vote for a new shutdown, non-essential businesses will shut, people will be banned from meeting others and everyone will be ordered again to work from home.
But the PM has told politicians in the Commons this afternoon that without a lockdown, the NHS will be overwhelmed.
"We would also reach a point where the NHS was no longer there for everyone," he said.
"The sick would be turned away.
"The sacred principle of care for anyone who needs it, whoever they are and wherever whenever they need it, could be broken for the first time in our lives.
"Doctors and nurses could be forced to choose which patients to treat - who would live and who would die."
He spoke a day after Michael Gove revealed fresh restrictions may last into the new year.
The Cabinet minister warned the R rate needs to fall below 1 before measures are lifted - and even then they would only be slightly eased.
His admission on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday show will raise fears of a ruined Christmas for millions of British families.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said: "We are going to review it on December 2 but we are driven by the data.
"On the basis of what we have been told it should drive the R rate below 1.
"It’s our hope that we have significantly reduced the reinfection (R) rate."
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