THE number of people who have died of Covid in the UK has dropped 32 per cent in a week as 236 more fatalities were recorded today.
The number of cases reported overnight hasn’t yet been revealed amid delays. However, last Friday, 8,523 cases and 346 deaths were reported.
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Student Ellie Fisher, left, takes a Covid test at Outwood Academy in Doncaster, ahead of schools and colleges fully reopening on MondayCredit: PA:Press Association
It’s understood the system is under pressure as pupils take tests ahead of schools reopening on Monday.
The dropping death toll raises hopes Brits are past the darkest time of the virus.
But there are new warnings to stick to the lockdown after the R rate crept up again.
The R rate – which represents the number of people an infected person will pass Covid onto – is between 0.7 and 0.9 across the UK, Sage said today.
It comes as:
In hospitals in England, 174 deaths were recorded. Patients were aged between 26 and 102, and six people – aged between 61 and 89 – didn’t have a known underlying health condition
A further two people died in Northern Ireland, while 11 new deaths were reported in Scotland and 12 in Wales.
Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today revealed that infection rates are now the lowest levels since October.
However, stats experts say infections are rising in the North East and Yorkshire.
And between February 21 and 27, around one in 220 people living in private households had Covid – the equivalent of 248,100 people.
It is the lowest figure since the week to October 1 when the estimate stood at one in 240, or 224,400 people.
Good news on lower infection rates prompted one academic to argue lockdown should end sooner.
Professor Tim Spector, who leads the symptom-tracking ZOE app, said new coronavirus cases have dropped by 15 per cent in just a week according to data logged.
He said last week there were 9,545 daily new Covid infections on average – and that figure has now dropped to 8,111 cases a day.
Prof Spector, a genetic epidemiologist at King’s College London, said: “With schools opening, we still need to be sensible to keep the good news flowing as we slowly return to normal life and hopefully ease lockdown earlier.”
Government officials have urged caution despite falling infection rates – as cases are climbing in 13 areas of England
But the Government says the dates set for easing of restrictions won’t be changed – and could be even delayed.
Yesterday, Downing Street urged people to continue to respect the lockdown after a survey suggested more than four in 10 over-80s who received their vaccine appear to have since broken the rules.
People in England can only meet one other person outside their household or bubble for exercise outside in this lockdown.
But having one jab has given more OAPs the peace of mind to leave home more, with 54 per cent saying they’d gone shopping.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It’s important that people continue to follow the guidelines that are in place.”
Asked if the elderly were behaving irresponsibly, the spokesman said: “We are asking everybody to continue to follow the rules and guidelines.”
Meanwhile, infections are still rising in 13 regions of England, including Hull, where cases have risen from 149.4 per 100,000 people to 159.8.
Infection rates have also jumped in Burnley from 99 to 110.2 and data from PHE states that it is the only area in Lancashire where cases are still on the up.
Worthing in West Sussex has also seen a rise from 80.5 to 103.1.
Overall, North West Leicestershire is the country’s Covid hotspot, with 197.9 cases per 100,000.
Public Health England launched a frantic search for someone who had come into the UK with the mutation in February – but didn’t fill in the contact details on their form and couldn’t be properly traced.
Earlier this week Matt Hancock said the search had been narrowed down to just over 300 households in the Gloucestershire area – and they were going door to door to find them.
Two officials confirmed to the Financial Times today that the person has now been located.
The R rate has also risen slightly, Sage experts warn