THE rates of coronavirus infections across several areas in Berkshire are on their way down, as 148 people tested positive in the past 24 hours.

Most recent figures from Public Health England show seven-day rates have fallen during November in Reading, Bracknell, West Berkshire, and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Rates have risen in the past month in Wokingham, and Slough.

Public Health England has recorded 148 lab-confirmed cases in the past 24 hours in areas including all the areas above within Berkshire.

The local breakdown for the past 24 hours as follows:

• Bracknell Forest - 23 cases, 1,444 total

• Wokingham - 27 cases, 2,120 total

• Reading - 31 cases, 2,693 total

• Slough - 39 cases, 3,849 total

• Windsor and Maidenhead - 21 cases, 2,385 total

• West Berkshire - 7 cases, 1,665 total

There have now been 1,629,657 people across the UK who have tested positive for the virus. Figures show 12,330 cases were reported in the past day.

The total number of deaths - those with Covid-19 listed on their death certificate - across the UK has now reached 66,713.

Locally, there were 21 deaths recorded in Berkshire in the past 24 hours.

The local seven-day rate of infection per 100,000 people is as per below:

• Reading - 129.8 (compared to 154.5 on Nov 9)

• West Berkshire - 63.7 (compared to 104.8 on Nov 9)

• Bracknell Forest - 68.5 (compared to 102 on Nov 9)

• Wokingham - 102.3 (compared to 92.3 on Nov 9)

• Slough - 299.6 (compared to 235.4 on Nov 9)

• Windsor and Maidenhead - 109 (compared to 169.7)

In today's national coronavirus news:

Boris Johnson has defended his plans for a tiered system to replace the national lockdown in England as he seeks to quell a rebellion against the restrictions from Tory MPs.

The Prime Minister said it would be wrong to "take our foot off the throat of the beast" now, with up to 100 Conservatives unhappy about the new system.

He acknowledged that "lots of people think that they are in the wrong tier" but insisted the measures set to come into force on Wednesday, December 2, are needed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

His comments, during a visit to a facility of pharmaceutical firm Wockhardt in Wales, where it is hoped a vaccine will be produced, came shortly before the Government published its impact assessment of the tiered approach ahead of Tuesday's crunch Commons vote.

Mr Johnson insisted the tiers are needed while "the scientific cavalry really are almost here", as he said a jab could be available "in a few weeks".

"We can't afford to take our foot off the throat of the beast, to take our foot off the gas, we can't afford to let it out of control again," he told reporters.

"The tiering system is tough, but it's designed to be tough and to keep it under control.

"I know that lots of people think that they are in the wrong tier and I understand people's frustration."

Meanwhile, the Government published its impact assessment of the new strengthened three-tiered approach as ministers sought to minimise the scale of any rebellion.

It acknowledged the "knock-on implications" of restrictions on other health services, mental health and physical wellbeing as well as the economic impact, but said the Government will "continue to pursue the best overall outcomes".

The document pointed to the Office for Budget Responsibility's forecast of an 11.3per cent slump in gross domestic product (GDP) - a key measure of the economy's size and health.

But it said the alternative of allowing Covid-19 to grow exponentially "is much worse for public health" and stressed the importance of keeping the R number - the reproduction rate of the virus - below 1.

"At the outset of the most difficult time of year for the NHS, and with hospital admissions already high, a sustained period with R above 1 would result in hospitals rapidly becoming overwhelmed," it warned.

"This could lead to many more Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 deaths that would have been preventable were the NHS to remain within its bed capacity."