The UK's coronavirus death toll has shot up by 274, while infections increased by more than 24,000.

This is the biggest Friday jump in deaths since May 29, when 274 fatalities were also recorded.

A further 24,405 positive cases were logged over the past 24 hours.

Infections are soaring across the country and some hospitals are now treating more Covid-19 patients than during the peak of the pandemic in April.

However, the UK's R rate has dropped for the second week in a row, offering some hope that the crisis may start to be being brought under control.

A Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) subgroup said the R for the UK is now 1.1-1.3, with a growth rate range of 2% to 4%.

It comes as a further 202 Covid-19 hospital patient deaths were announced today, with 163 fatalities in England alone.

Infections are soaring across Britain

The patients were aged between 42 and 100 years old and all except four had known underlying health conditions.

Scotland recorded 28 new deaths and 1,281 fresh cases, while Wales recorded 11 fatalities and 1,737 new infections.

Northern Ireland saw nine further deaths and 566 new cases.

ONS figures for England show one in 96 people in England are estimated to have coronavirus, according to the latest official infections data.

The number of infections continues to increase particularly sharply among secondary schoolchildren, the fresh figures show.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) weekly infections survey shows numbers continue to rise.

Tough new restrictions have been introduced in a bid to cut infections

There were an average of 51,900 new cases per day in private households in England between October 17 and 23.

This is up from an estimated 35,200 new cases per day for the period from October 10 to 16.

That's up from last week when experts estimated one in 130 people in England had the virus in a single week.

The latest infections data comes as vast areas of England's hard-hit North East including Teeside, wait to hear whether they will be next to be plunged into Tier 3 measures.

The ONS' latest estimates show the highest Covid-19 infection rates continue to be seen in the North West, and Yorkshire and The Humber.

And while rates also remain high for the North East, they are beginning to level off with a larger gap with the other two northern regions, according to its figures.

Rates in the South West were increasing but remained low compared to other regions, estimates showed.

The UK's  coronavirus  R rate has dropped for the second week in a row, despite case numbers rising.

A Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) subgroup said the R for the UK is now 1.1-1.3, with a growth rate range of 2% to 4%.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

However, the R number is still as high as 1.5 in the South West - one of the shrinking numbers of areas without toughened Tier restrictions.

It remains above 1 in all areas - and while it remained static or dropped in most regions, it lifted slightly in the Midlands, and Sage warned today it continues to grow 'rapidly'.

This time last week the R was at 1.3-1.6, with a growth rate of 3% to 6%, which was also a slight dip from the previous week.