Boris Johnson faced fresh pressure to consider a tighter national lockdown in the face of figures suggesting local measures to contain the spread of coronavirus were not working.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Government's scientific advisory panel who specialises in disease outbreaks, recommended a "circuit breaker" be considered on a national basis in a bid to slow the virus, rather than trying to reduce it at a later stage.
Case numbers have risen sharply in recent weeks, with the UK today recording 14,162 new cases of Covid-19 today. A fortnight before, on 22 September, there were 4,926 cases recorded.
In Northern Ireland, 828 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the past 24 hours. It brings to 4,417 the number of Covid-19 cases that have been identified there in the last seven days.
At Prime Minister's Questions, Labour leader Keir Starmer said 19 of the 20 areas subjected to local measures for two months had seen infection rates increase.
And Mr Starmer questioned why constituencies such as Mr Johnson's were spared extra curbs while northern seats with similar levels of coronavirus were hit with restrictions.
Speaking in a personal capacity, Prof Semple - a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) - told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "perhaps a circuit breaker a couple of weeks ago would have been a really good idea".
He added: "It's always easier to reduce an outbreak at the earlier stage than to let it run and then try to reduce it at a later stage.
"So, yes, circuit breakers are certainly something we should be thinking about on a national basis."
According to the British government's coronavirus dashboard, there were 2,783 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals in England and 349 patients on ventilators as of Tuesday.
The number of those admitted to English hospitals on Sunday - the most recent day for which the figures are available - was 478, almost double the figure seven days previously.
The figures for hospital admissions and patients on ventilators in England are the highest since June.
Labour leader Keir Starmer questioned the way local restrictions had been introduced after colleague Jonathan Ashworth suggested there was a "suspicion" of "political interference" in favour of Tory heartlands.
Mr Starmer said: "In the Prime Minister's own local authority Hillingdon, today there are 62 cases per 100,000 yet no local restrictions. But in 20 local areas across England, restrictions were imposed when infection rates were much lower.
"In Kirklees it was just 29 per 100,000."
Mr Johnson hinted that tougher measures could be needed in the capital and the Midlands.
"I wish I could pretend that everything was going to be rosy in the Midlands or indeed in London where, alas, we are also seeing infections rise," he said, as he called for a "concerted national effort".
Mr Starmer said 19 of the 20 areas which were first subject to targeted restrictions had seen cases rise.
"The Prime Minister can't explain why an area goes into restrictions, he can't explain what the different restrictions are, and he can't explain how restrictions end," Mr Starmer said.
"This is getting ridiculous."
The Prime Minister insisted the government would "continue with our package to suppress the virus not just nationally but locally and regionally as well".
With Mr Johnson facing a potential Tory revolt over the 10pm curfew next week, Mr Starmer called for him to publish the scientific evidence supporting the measure or commit to reviewing the rule.
The rise in cases has led to warnings from leaders of northern cities that the local lockdown restrictions are confusing and even "counter-productive", as they called for new powers to tackle the resurgence.
The leaders of Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle City Councils - Judith Blake, Richard Leese and Nick Forbes - joined Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson in writing to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to say they are "extremely concerned" about the rise in cases.
"The existing restrictions are not working, confusing for the public and some, like the 10pm rule, are counter-productive," the Labour politicians wrote.
They called for additional powers to punish those who break rules, for new restrictions to be developed by police, council and public health experts, and for a locally-controlled Test and Trace system.
"We want to be clear, however, that we do not support further economic lockdowns," the leaders added.
Meanwhile, concerns were raised over the supply of vital materials used for Covid-19 testing following a supply chain problem with Roche.
The pharmaceutical giant said it had experienced a "very significant drop" in its processing capacity due to a problem with its Sussex distribution centre.
It has been reported that the shortage includes vital reagents, screening kits and swabs.
UK has a problem - Hancock
Britain's rising numbers of Covid-19 infections and an increase in people being hospitalised with the disease demonstrate that there is a serious problem, the country's health minister Matt Hancock said.
"It is a challenge, and everybody will have seen, from the rising case rates and unfortunately the rising hospitalisation rates which have risen really quite sharply in the last week or so, that we have got a very serious problem on our hands," Mr Hancock said at a Confederation of British Industry webinar.
"The challenge is how to deal with this second peak in a way that has as little damage as possible. Thankfully we know far more about it than first time around."
Meanwhile, local lockdowns and different restrictions across Britain are the best way for the country to deal with the coronavirus at the moment, trade minister Liz Truss said.
Asked about criticism that the measures are not working, Ms Truss told BBC Radio: "The measures that we put in place are, whilst not measures that we would want to have to do in normal times, are the best way of dealing with it that we have now."
Three of the UK's largest universities have shifted to online classes due to coronavirus outbreaks.
More than 50 universities in the UK have confirmed cases of Covid-19, after thousands of undergraduates returned to campus for the start of the autumn term.
Manchester University, where there have been 382 coronavirus cases since 21 September, joined with Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Sheffield in announcing a move to online learning to protect the health of students and staff.
The move comes amid rising cases across parts of England, with the latest weekly infection figures showing Manchester's rate has soared, with 3,105 new cases recorded in the seven days to 3 October - the equivalent of 561.6 cases per 100,000 people.
Analysis by the PA news agency shows the UK-wide seven-day rate increased to 125.7 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people from 63.8 a week ago.
In Scotland, new restrictions have been placed on the hospitality industry, with harsher changes made in the central belt.
Announcing changes to coronavirus measures in Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that indoor hospitality venues will only be allowed to operate between 6am and 6pm daily, selling food and non-alcoholic drinks only.
Outdoor bars, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to remain open up until 10pm and will be allowed to sell alcohol up to that time.
The restrictions will come into force at 6pm on Friday and are intended to end after 25 October.
However, all licensed premises in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley health board areas will be closed for both indoor and outdoor operations.
Cafes without a licence to sell alcohol will be allowed to open until 6pm, the First Minister said, to counter social isolation.
People in the central belt of Scotland have been asked to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary in the next two weeks.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that those in the five health board areas should only use public transport when travelling to work, school or other unavoidable reasons.
While a travel restriction is not being enforced on people in the central belt, Ms Sturgeon urged those living in these areas not to travel beyond their own health boards.