The UK has become the first country in Europe to cross the grim milestone of 50,000 COVID-19 related deaths as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "we mourn everybody who's gone".
As per the official figures released by the government, 1,256,725 people have tested positive for the virus after 22,950 new cases were recorded this week.
A further 595 fatalities due to the deadly viral infection on Wednesday took the death toll to 50,365, making the UK the fifth country in the world to cross the 50,000-mark after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.
"We're not out of the woods yet. Every death is a tragedy, we mourn everybody who's gone and our feelings are with their families and friends," Johnson said.
"It is a global pandemic whose effects, whose treatments, whose implications for the economy, all those have been becoming clearer as the months have gone on," he said.
The grim death toll comes as news of a possible new effective vaccine being ready by the end of the year hit the global headlines earlier this week. However, Johnson has previously warned that it is still "very, very early days" for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
"It is still some way off. And we absolutely cannot rely on this as a solution," he said, urging people to continue to follow the strict lockdown rules in order to keep the rate of infections in check.
Meanwhile, the UK government has been expanding its mass testing capabilities, with an initial pilot in the city of Liverpool being expanded to further cities and also for students on university campuses wanting to travel back home for Christmas after lockdown is lifted from December 2.
"We are absolutely committed to using the latest testing technology to make asymptomatic testing available in more areas," said UK Health Minister Lord James Bethell.
"It is right we've taken a dual-track approach to evaluating this technology - by piloting them in the field so we can understand how to best make these tests available, and by getting our world-leading academics and clinicians to undertake rigorous evaluation of their ability to detect the virus. I'm delighted that both are already demonstrating that lateral flow tests can be the reliable, highly sensitive technology we need to help get this virus under control, and return to as close to normality as possible," he said.
Lateral flow tests are rapid turnaround tests that can process COVID-19 samples on site without the need for laboratory equipment, with most generating results in under half an hour.
As part of the UK government's strategy for testing the effectiveness of this new technology, these new tests are being piloted across England.