The UK has reported a further 1,041 people have died with coronavirus, the highest daily death toll since April.
It came as 62,322 new cases were recorded and as MPs debated new curbs for England before a vote later.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said doctors could be forced to ration treatment without a new lockdown.
He said there were now 30,074 Covid patients in UK hospitals, as an ambulance trust told of its busiest-ever day.
The toll of those who died within 28 days of a positive test in the past week is 37% higher than the previous seven days.
Mr Hancock told MPs the consequences of inaction could be similar to scenes elsewhere in the world – of overrun hospitals and doctors choosing “who to treat and who to turn away”.
“If we don’t act now, we know that eventually the NHS would not be able to cope,” Mr Hancock said.
“We know that while the winter weeks will be difficult, we now know what the way out looks like,” he said, referencing the accelerated roll out of vaccines.