Snow and sleet could hit London this week as temperatures plummet across the country.

The mercury has fallen well below freezing in parts of the UK over recent days prompting Public Health England to issue a warning advising people to take precautions over the winter months.

Figures earlier this week showed there were more than 34,000 “excess deaths” across England and Wales over the last winter period, the second highest level in eight years.

After a short-lived milder day on Monday, the icy weather is expected to return, and the Met Office says the capital’s first snow of the winter could arrive on Wednesday or Thursday.

Forecaster Steven Keates told the Standard: “Tonight a band of rain will approach from the north-west, and there will be gusts of wind as the weather front comes down.

“It will not be as cold as it has been overnight, 3 or 4C.

“By the end of the night temperatures start to come up a bit and we will have a milder start, temperatures could reach double figures, but it will be wet and windy first thing.

“By lunch time it should be brighter as the rain clears away, but the cold air return which sets the scene for the continuation of the cold theme for the rest of the week.”

A prolonged period of low temperatures will then last throughout next week and the following week.

Mr Keates added: “Into Tuesday there will be sunshine, it will be chilly but bright with the risk of wet weather, with temperatures struggling.

“On Wednesday and Thursday there will be a greater risk of some showers, we could see some snow or sleet, it’s not likely to settle but it is something to look out for.

“Temperatures are expected to reach as maximum of 5 or 6C and there will be overnight frosts.

“The wind is also going to be a feature of the weather for the rest of the week, so wrap up warm.”

Dr Thomas Waite, of Public Health England’s Extreme Events team, said: “We’re well used to winter in this country so most people know what to do to protect their health before and during cold spells.

“But there are people who may not take precautions and who are at a very real risk.

“We know that every winter thousands of people fall ill and many die because of exposure to cold both in the home and while outdoors.

“Those most at risk include older people, very young children and those with conditions like heart and lung disease.”

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