UK records 43,676 Covid cases and 149 deaths in latest daily figures

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The UK recorded 43,676 Covid infections and 149 deaths on Wednesday, according to the latest figures.

Infections have increased 14 per cent in a week, though fatalities are down 25 per cent.

The total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic now stands at 9,974,843 while fatalities have reached 144,286.

Meanwhile, a total of 365,152 Britons received a third vaccine dose on Tuesday, bringing the total to 16,004,629.

A total of 50,827,554 first doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been delivered in the UK by November 23. This is a rise of 26,822 on the previous day.

It comes as a Cabinet minister denied any plans to follow other countries in Europe and impose mandatory vaccination on citizens.

Justice secretary and deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said take-up of the jab was already high enough without needing to impose the policy and said the Government had “got the balance right”.

Austria last week became the first country in Europe to make vaccines mandatory. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said it would be compulsory to be jabbed from February 1.

Asked about whether the policy would be successful in boosting take-up in Britain, Mr Raab told Sky News: “Maybe in some countries but I don’t think in the UK, given the extraordinary success we’ve had in rolling out the vaccine.

“The rollout scheme of boosters is working very effectively.”

Elsewhere, Boris Johnson faced criticism after reports emerged that he attended a performance of Macbeth without wearing a mask.

The Guardian said an audience member at the Almeida theatre saw Mr Johnson without his mask on at all times during Tuesday’s performance, while another had seen him maskless in a public area of the north London venue.

On its website the theatre urges patrons to wear a face covering during their visit unless eating or drinking.

Asked by reporters on Wednesday why the prime minister was “not wearing a mask” during the performance, Mr Johnson’s press secretary said: “The PM follows all Covid rules.”