A total 18,676 deaths were registered in the week ending January 22, according to the latest official figures.
Of those fatalities, 8,422 mentioned Covid-19 in the death registration, as fears grow over the new South African variant of the virus.
That represented an increase of 1,177 deaths compared with the previous week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures published today said.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said it may be possible for people to become infected with the South African variant even if they have had Covid-19 in the past.
She told BBC Breakfast: “That is something that is causing concern around the world.
“In Brazil where there is a different variant – which was badly hit in the first wave – there was a lot of reinfection there and that’s what also seems to potentially be the case with this variant in South Africa.
“South Africa is a country that has really struggled during this pandemic and we have had rates on reinfection there.
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Nine in ten of those 8,422 deaths mentioning Covid-19 in the registration noted the virus as the underlying cause.
Of the 5,696 deaths involving influenza and pneumonia, 5.8% had these as the underlying cause
Deaths involving Covid represented nearly half of all deaths across England and Wales in the third week of January.
A total 69% of the deaths mentioning Covid occurred in hospitals, 24,709 died in care homes, 5,188 in private homes, and 1,419 in hospices.
The latest data from the ONS showed the total 18,676 deaths of all causes registered in England and Wales was 41.3% above the five-year average (5,460 deaths higher).
The ONS estimates the true number of deaths of all kinds in the third week of January was more likely between 17,342 and 21,653.
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The government is racing to curb the spread of the more contagious South African variant – also known as the B. 1 .351 variant.
Its presence has been detected in multiple postcodes in Britain in recent days, prompting ramped up door-to-door testing.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night announced a number of postcodes being targeted for mobile testing for the new mutant strain.
People in those areas are being targeted with a ‘stay at home’ message and urged to get tested even if they have no symptoms.
Mr Hancock also told Monday’s Downing Street press conference that more than 9.2million doses of the vaccine have now been given.