The UK has recorded 32,181 new COVID cases and 50 more coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period, government data shows.

The figures compare with 26,476 infections and 48 fatalities reported on Monday, and 30,838 cases and 174 deaths announced this time last week.

Also, 19,643 people had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, taking the total to 48,048,009 (88.4% of UK adults).

And 66,648 had their second jab, meaning 42,790,585 are now fully inoculated (78.7% of the adult population).

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According to the latest data, 901 COVID patients were admitted to hospital on 27 August and there were 6,479 admissions in the last seven days, a 6% rise on the previous week.

Since the pandemic began, 132,535 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive COVID test, and there have been 6,789,581 lab-confirmed cases.

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Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 156,000 deaths registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Meanwhile, experts from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are preparing to make a final decision on a vaccine booster campaign.

The NHS is preparing to start to offer a third jab to over 30 million over-50s and clinically vulnerable people from 6 September, but are waiting for a green light from government advisers.

Experts will also issue guidance on whether the UK will offer vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds, as other countries have.

On Monday, the director of WHO Europe said third COVID-19 jabs are not “luxury boosters” making vaccine inequity worse but a means of keeping the vulnerable safe.

Hans Kluge appeared to contradict his World Health Organisation (WHO) colleagues, who earlier this month criticised countries such as the US and Israel for rolling out booster vaccine programmes when many people around the world have not yet been jabbed.

Mr Kluge said: “A third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster [that is] taken away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab. It’s basically a way to keep the most vulnerable safe.”

He said more evidence is needed to support a full rollout, but added: “More and more studies show that a third dose keeps vulnerable people safe, and this is done by more and more countries in our region.”

Over the weekend, Italy scrapped its travel quarantine for people arriving from the UK as long as they are fully vaccinated and can show a negative COVID test.

Italy’s health ministry said the new rules, which came into force today, will require a negative PCR or antigen test taken 48 hours before arriving in Italy – and it must have been at least 14 days since the second vaccine dose was administered.

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Existing restrictions for arrivals from other countries remain in place.

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