COVID deaths in the UK today dropped to their lowest level in five months with 33 more fatalities recorded.
A further 5,312 people have also tested positive for the disease – bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 4,296,583.
🦠 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates…
Covid cases and deaths have continued to dropCredit: LNP
Today’s daily death toll brings the total number of Covid victims in the UK to 126,155.
The latest number is the lowest deaths have been since October 4 when 33 fatalities were recorded.
It is also the third Sunday in a row deaths have fallen below 100 – but the figures are usually lower at the weekend due to a lag in reporting.
It comes as…
Yesterday there were 96 more deaths in the lowest Saturday rise since October and 5,587 new cases.
The glimmer of hope means the lockdown roadmap could continue as scheduled with Britain back to normal by June.
Hopes have also been boosted by the Herculean vaccine rollout, which yesterday hit another impressive milestone.
Around 1.3 per cent of the population – 873,784 people – received the jab in the UK on Saturday in a third record day of vaccinations.
The NHS revealed during one hour yesterday, jabs were given out at a rate of 26 a second.
A total of 27,630,970 people have now received a first dose, while 2,228,772 have been given a second jab.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “A huge thank you to everyone involved and please come forward to get your jab when you are invited to do so.”
But top experts have warned social distancing will have to stay in place until at least every UK adult is vaccinated.
Professor Jeremy Brown, who is part of the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation said “some degree” of rules on staying apart would have to remain in place until July at the earliest, or infections would soar again.
Professor Brown told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: “If you completely lift all restrictions, there will be a wave of infections crossing the country.
“Those that are not protected… at this point in time are still vulnerable, they will get infections, and they will probably end up in hospital and die.”
He said in order to prevent “infection going around the country, which means vaccinating everybody, then some degree of social distancing or protection is going to be required.”
Large numbers of people without the jab can still spread the virus, even though huge swathes of the most vulnerable are now protected, he warned.
And Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England warned that people may have to stay apart and wear masks for years to come.
She was asked if Brits should expect mask wearing and social distancing to go on for a long period of time, replying: “I think yes, I think we are talking about quite a long period of time.
“People have got used to those lower level restrictions now, people can live with them and the economy can still go on with those less severe restrictions in place.
“Certainly for a few years, at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are, and the numbers have come down everywhere, that’s when we may be able to go from very gradually back to a more normal situation.”