The number of people dying with Covid in England and Wales today hit its highest weekly total for 12 weeks.

There were a total of 321 coronavirus deaths in the week ending October 2, the Office for National Statistics said.

This is 106 more than the 215 in previous week and almost three times the 139 reported a fortnight ago. It is the highest weekly total since early July.

In London, the Covid death toll increased week on week from 23 to 31. The worst affected region was the North West, with 106 deaths – 56 more than a week earlier.

Today’s figures come after the Prime Minister’s announcement last night that the Liverpool city region – part of the North West – would be the first to enter the highest of three tiers of coronavirus restrictions.

The total number of deaths from all causes in the most recent week in England and Wales was 9,945 – 311 more than the previous week. The total was also 390 deaths above the average for the time of year.

Across the entire UK, there were 343 deaths involving Covid – 109 more than the previous week – and a total of 11,444 deaths from all causes, up 583 week-on-week and 591 deaths more than average.

The South West was the only English region to have lower overall deaths than average.

The biggest increase in Covid deaths in England and Wales was seen in those 80 to 84 years (22 more deaths).

This highlights the growing concern among Government that rampaging infection rates in the 16 to 30 age group eventually translate into infections and subsequently deaths in the oldest and most vulnerable members of society.

London’s weekly Covid death toll is the highest for 13 weeks. However it is a long way short of the peak number of weekly Covid deaths in the capital – 1,818, which was recorded in the week ending April 17.

This story is being updated.