CORONAVIRUS deaths have dropped by a third in a week, with another 828 fatalities reported today.
A further 18,262 Brits have tested positive for the bug – bringing the total to 3,929,835.
People wait to be tested at a Covid-19 mobile testing unit set up at the White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester, after the South Africa variant was detectedCredit: PA:Press Association
The rise in fatalities brings the total to 112,092 since the beginning of the pandemic.
But today’s rise is much lower than last Saturday’s total of 1,200, and also far below the figure of 1,348 reported a fortnight ago.
Today’s increase in cases also marks a 22 per cent drop on the 23,275 infections recorded a week ago.
It comes as:
Meanwhile, separate figures showed a further 571 deaths in English hospitals – with one person under 19 among the fatalities.
Wales reported 49 deaths, while Scotland and Northern recorded 48 and 7 respectively.
It marks the lowest hospital death toll on a Saturday since January 2, when 479 fatalities were reported.
Meanwhile, a total of 11.46 million people in the UK have now received a first dose of a Covid vaccine.
This is up 494,163 on yesterday’s figure, wile a total of 510,057 people in the UK have received two doses of the jab.
It comes as Worcestershire County Council today announced two new postcodes in the area would be given door-to-door “surge” Covid testing after the South Africa variant was found.
Home testing kits will be made available in order to test as many people as possible as health officials scramble to prevent the surge of the South Africa strain, which experts fear could reduce the efficacy of vaccines.
Scientists have warned the mutation, named 501YV2, is feared to be at least 50 per cent more contagious, with hundreds more undetected cases thought to be in the country.
And in a bid to stop new strains coming into the country, ministers plan to force anyone passing into Britain to take two Covid tests during their 10-day isolation, it was revealed last night.
People arriving from ‘red list’ countries will have to spend a week and a half under guard in hotels.
But even those coming in from other, safer locations will now be tested twice during their mandatory isolation.
The proposals will be introduced on February 15 – the same date hotel quarantines will come into force.
Meanwhile, a doom-laden report from the government’s advisers claims vaccines are “insufficient” to allow the UK to go back to normality “within the year” – despite Boris Johnson’s pledge to start lifting restrictions in weeks.
Even with the successful vaccine rollout, the dossier prepared for the Sage group of scientists claims there could be a further 130,000 Covid deaths between now and next June if the lockdown is scrapped.
The latest data shows that lockdown is continuing to have a significant impact on the country’s infection rate, with hospitalisations also falling.
Experts estimate that the R rate – the rate of infection – is now below 1 for the first time since July.
The official figure – which represents the number of people an infected person will pass Covid on to – is now between 0.7 and 0.9, Sage said yesterday.