The UK's Covid-19 alert level has been moved from level three to level four, meaning that transmission of the virus has been judged to be "high or rising exponentially".

The Joint Biosecurity Centre recommended the raising of the alert level yesterday, following a review of the current situation by the chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A spokesman said on behalf of the four chief medical officers: “After a period of lower Covid cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations.

"If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly.

"We know this will be a concerning news for many people; please follow the rules, look after each other and together we will get through this.”