Britain’s daily Covid deaths have dropped week-on-week for the first this month after 610 fatalities were recorded today.
Today’s death toll has plunged 9 per cent from the 671 recorded this time last week.
It is the first time the numbers have dropped week-on-week since December 27, when the 316 recorded deaths was 3 per cent lower than the 326 fatalities one week prior.
England’s third lockdown came into place on January 5 in a bid to combat a rapidly-spreading Covid-19 variant.
In a sign that the third round of draconian restrictions are working, today’s case figures have also decreased, with Sunday’s 30,004 positive tests down 22 per cent on last week’s 38,598.
But, as Britain’s Covid deaths stay above the 500 mark for the seventh day in a row, the country will soon hit 100,000 total fatalities since the pandemic began.
It will make the UK the fifth country in the world to pass the grim milestone, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.
Meanwhile, this week’s seven-day average of 1,248 deaths is the highest Monday to Sunday figure recorded since the pandemic began.
Last week’s was the previous highest, standing at 1,119.
The R number, which estimates the growth rate of the pandemic, currently sits at between 0.8 and 1 – suggesting the virus may be on the decline as lockdown begins to take effect.
In other twists and turns in the coronavirus crisis today:
- The UK reported a further 30,004 Covid cases, down almost a quarter on last Sunday, and 610 more deaths today;
- It was another record day for vaccinations with 491,970 first doses and 1,043 second doses;
- Mr Hancock revealed that as of this morning three quarters of the over-80s have been vaccinated;
- The UK has detected 77 cases of the South African variant of Covid and nine cases of one of the Brazilian variants;
- Nicola Sturgeon faces fury for ramping up her independence drive during the pandemic as she threatened to hold a referendum without Boris Johnson’s agreement – and SNP MPs said they are ‘focused on undermining the union’;
- Nursing leaders have called for higher-grade face masks to be given to staff to protect them against highly transmissible strains of coronavirus.
The UK has recorded another 30,004 Covid cases, down almost a quarter on last Sunday, and a further 610 deaths today
But with some 97,939 deaths now recorded Britain is set to hit the grim milestone of 100,000 lives lost since the start of the pandemic. It will be the fifth country to do so after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.
Saturday alone saw 491,970 people get their first dose and 1,043 get their second, the highest daily figures recorded so far
MIDLANDS BECOMES FIRST REGION IN ENGLAND TO GIVE A MILLION INITIAL COVID JABS
The Midlands has become the first region in England to administer more than one million first doses of coronavirus vaccine, new figures from NHS England show.
The data also shows London still lags behind all other regions in terms of the total number of jabs given, having delivered around 641,000 since December 8.
The capital also delivered the lowest number of first doses in the last seven days.
Between January 17 and January 23, 219,350 first doses were administered in London compared to 362,976 in the Midlands.
It comes after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said on January 18 it was ‘vital’ that vulnerable Londoners be given ‘life-saving’ vaccines as quickly as possible, and that he ‘fully expected’ numbers to increase.
The capital has a lower average age than the rest of the UK, according to data from Trust for London.
Around 3% of London’s population is over 80, compared with 6% in south-west England.
The NHS England data shows that a total of 5,970,175 vaccinations, including first and second doses, have been administered in England since December 8.
Regional breakdown shows the next highest number of jabs delivered after the Midlands was in the North East and Yorkshire, with 905,794 first doses and 71,725 second doses, making 977,519 in total.
This is followed by the South East, with 881,901 first doses and 76,288 second doses making 958,189 given in total, and the North West, where a total of 829,130 jabs have been administered, including 765,617 first doses and 63,513 second doses.
In the East of England, there have been 734,392 jabs in total, of which 680,812 were first doses and 53,580 second doses.
And in the South West, 632,406 first doses and 53,508 second doses – a total of 685,914 – have been given.
The latest reporting period also included another record day for vaccinations, with a further 491,970 people have their first dose.
Along with Saturday’s data this means 6,353,321 have had at least their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine – a rise of almost half a million on yesterday’s figure.
There is however uncertainty over whether a new Covid variant found in Kent could ruin the effect of the lockdown if restrictions were relaxed.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning cited warnings from scientists that the mutant strain first detected in Kent could be between 10 and 50 per cent more lethal.
But after criticism that the government was scaring people before the picture was clear, he admitted there are ‘uncertainties’ – while insisting that is the ‘nature of science’.
He also fuelled rumours of Cabinet splits on how tough to make the UK’s border policy by saying ‘precautions’ against variants that have not yet been detected.
And he delivered a grim message to those hoping lockdown could any anytime soon, insisting case numbers are a ‘long, long, long way’ from being low enough.
Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme, Mr Hancock said: ‘The scientists do think it may be more deadly. They have put various estimates..’
He said that ‘communicating risk is challenging’ as he defended Boris Johnson’s decision to reveal the news on lethality at a dramatic press conference on Friday night.
‘There are uncertainties on that. That is the nature of science… the vast majority of the public understand that,’ Mr Hancock said.
‘There is a risk the new variant is more deadly. We know it is more transmissible.’
Despite seeing reductions in the number of cases in recent days, it is believed that school reopening dates are set to be pushed back again to avoid another spike in the virus.
It is believed that Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, will within days rule out the full reopening of schools after the February half-term break.
While no exact date has been reported, headteachers and education leaders expect the push-back could be as late as April or even May.
This means that under-pressure parents will have to manage their own work alongside almost half a year of home schooling, with schools having broken up for the Christmas break in mid-December.
Mr Johnson told the country on Friday that the Kent coronavirus strain – responsible for the soaring Covid cases recorded in the last month – could be more deadly than older versions
Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning cited warnings from scientists that the mutant strain first detected in Kent could be between 10 and 50 per cent more lethal
Parents could be home schooling their children for months to come as the return to the classroom is set to be pushed back again (stock photo)
It is believed that Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, will within days rule out the full reopening of schools after the February half-term break
A government source told the Sunday Times: ‘We are in this for the long haul. We are going to start giving parents more information so they can start managing their expectations. Although we have not arrived at an exact date when we think schools will go back, it will not be after half-term.’
Mr Williamson then said that parents and teachers would be given two weeks notice for the full reopening of schools.
This morning Mr Hancock said that while he hoped schools in England could reopen by Easter, it would depend on the levels of infection in the community at that time.
‘We have got to look at the data, we have got to look at the impact of the vaccination programme,’ he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
Matt Hancock blasts influencers sunning themselves overseas as he warns ‘no parties in Paris’ or ‘weekends in Dubai’
The Health Secretary on Sunday reinforced the government’s rule that international travel should not be happening unless it was ‘absolutely necessary’.
Many UK celebrities and social media stars have descended on Dubai and the Caribbean over recent months, escaping stringent lockdown measures at home, with many maintaining their trips were for business purposes.
It come as ministers are expected on Monday to discuss the possibility of forcing travellers arriving in the UK to spend their 10 days of quarantine in a hotel.
Speaking on the BBC this morning, Mr Hancock reiterated: ‘International travel, right now, should not be happening unless it’s absolutely necessary.
‘No parties in Paris or weekends in Dubai. That is not on and in most cases it’s against the law.’
Mr Hancock gave a ‘medical emergency’ as one example where travelling abroad would be deemed acceptable.
A number of countries have banned travel to and from the UK completely as they try to contain the spread of the new coronavirus variant.
Mr Hancock also urged people to stay at home and follow the rules. He said: ‘We should be worried enough, all of us, about this pandemic to follow the rules and it is just so important that people do. This morning I’ve come out of my formal self-isolation, I haven’t actually left the house yet because I haven’t needed to.’
He added: ‘Whatever the exact nature of the UK new variant, and the scientists do think that it may be more deadly and they’ve put various estimates on that from about 10 per cent more deadly to a bit more than that, we are not exactly certain about how much more deadly.
‘But in a way, for all of us, that doesn’t matter. What matters is we’ve got to get this virus under control and the only way you do that is by stopping the social contact and following the rules.’
Asked if the public were left wondering what to believe on the new Covid strain, he replied: ‘No I don’t think that’s the case for the vast majority of the public actually.
‘Communicating risk is challenging and it’s challenging for media outlets as well I understand that, but when we put the scientific evidence out there for instance, one of the studies says that this might by 10 per cent to 50 per cent more deadly, there are uncertainties in that, that’s the nature of science.’
He added: ‘Therefore we say there is a risk that the new variant is more deadly, we know that it is more contagious, more transmissible, all of that means it is even more important that people stay at home.’
Mr Hancock played down the prospect of domestic lockdown being tightened even further – but struck a very negative tone on whether they were likely to be loosened, amid fears that the curbs could drag into the summer.
‘Well there is early evidence that the lockdown is starting to bring cases down, but we’re a long, long, long way from being low enough because the case rate was incredibly high and you can see the pressure on the NHS, you can see it every day,’ he said.
‘The NHS are doing an amazing job in incredibly difficult circumstances and so we, I am confident in the measures that we’ve got in place now. What really matters is that everybody follows them and the reason for that is not just the death toll each day which is far too high but also because the pressure on the NHS – including from people who thankfully come out of hospital alive – the pressure on the NHS is enormous and that has knock-on consequences for people who suffer from all other illnesses.
‘So it is very, very important that we continue to follow the rules, that’s at the core of it even whilst we do everything we can to support the NHS through this.’
Mr Johnson told the country on Friday that the Kent coronavirus strain – responsible for the soaring Covid cases recorded in the last month – could be more deadly than older versions.
UK has identified 77 cases of South African Covid variant and nine of a Brazilian mutant that are under ‘close observation’ as experts warn virus is changing so fast new vaccines might be needed EVERY year
The UK has identified 77 cases of South African coronavirus variant and nine of a Brazilian mutant, it was revealed today – amid warnings the virus is changing so fast new vaccines might be needed every year.
Matt Hancock said the cases were being kept under ‘very close observation’ stressing that they appeared to be linked to travellers – amid a Cabinet row over how to tighten border rules.
‘They are under very close observation, and we have enhanced contact tracing to do everything we possibly can to stop them from spreading,’ the Health Secretary said.
The figures emerged as Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the country will need to ‘get used to’ living with coronavirus.
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the country will need to ‘get used to’ living with coronavirus
Hancock pushes for tougher border rules
Matt Hancock today fuelled Cabinet tensions over a UK border crackdown urging ‘precautionary’ action against Covid variants that have not been detected yet – amid claims the PM wants a more targeted approach.
The Health Secretary gave a strong hint he favours blanket curbs on arrivals ahead of a showdown in a key committee on Tuesday. He also said 77 cases of the South African variant, all linked to travellers, and nine of a Brazilian variant have been identified in the UK.
The key ‘Covid O’ group of ministers are expected to meet to thrash out a tightening, but ‘hawks’ such as Mr Hancock, Michael Gove and Priti Patel have been wrangling with ‘doves’ such as Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
There are calls for all arrivals to be forced into Australia-style ‘quarantine hotels’ at airports for 10 days at their own expense – and a full border shutdown for foreign passengers has not been ruled out.
Sources told the Mail on Sunday that Boris Johnson favours targeting the restrictions on Covid hotspots rather than making all air passengers quarantine.
However, in a sign of the tensions, one Cabinet ‘hawk’ told MailOnline that the policy will be ‘worthless’ unless it covers all arrivals to the UK.
Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday Professor Harnden said: ‘I think we have to get used to this.
‘We are living in a world where coronavirus is so prevalent and rapidly mutating there are going to be new variants that pop up in all sorts of different countries.
‘We may well be in a situation where we have to have an annual coronavirus vaccine much like we do with the flu vaccine, but the public should be reassured that these technologies are relatively easy to edit and tweak, so once we find strains that are predominant, the vaccines can be altered.’
Earlier, Mr Hancock told the programme that work was being done with international counterparts to analyse the efficacy of the vaccine on foreign variants, but added he was more worried about further mutant strains that ‘had not been spotted’.
‘There’s probably (variants) elsewhere that simply haven’t been picked up because the country doesn’t have that genomic sequencing service,’ he said.
Mr Hancock said that tests were ongoing at Porton Down and in South Africa, adding that he wanted to see the UK’s genomic sequencing capability ‘made available across the world’ so that emerging variants could be caught.
‘In the meantime we’ve got to have a precautionary principle… so we’ve introduced pre-departure testing and we’ve also introduced checks on everybody to check that that has happened,’ he said.
‘It is absolutely vital that we protect this country from a variant that is not as well dealt with by the vaccine.
‘We cannot risk the progress we have made.’
The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance previously said there was ‘no evidence that the South African or Brazilian variants’ were more transmissible than the new UK strain.
But he said: ‘It is the case that both the South African and Brazilian identified variants have more differences in shape which might mean they are recognised differently by antibodies.’
‘I think it is too early to know the effect that will have on the vaccination in people and it is worth remembering that the response of the vaccine is very, very high antibody levels, so they may overcome some of this.’
Boris Johnson is set to compel visitors from high-risk Covid countries to quarantine for ten days, The Mail on Sunday understands. Pictured: Crowds at London’s Heathrow Airport
- Coronavirus: UK to unveil new financial measures to support economy
- Coronavirus could already have infected HALF the British population and been spreading in the UK since JANUARY, Oxford University study claims - as official death toll jumps record 87 in a day to 422 and confirmed cases leap by 1,427
- Dutch firm creates new coronavirus test that looks for antibodies and gives results in just 15 minutes - as pressure grows on the UK to test ALL suspected cases
- Coronavirus: 11 more deaths take UK total to 244
- Coronavirus pandemic | India records its third COVID-19 death as 64-year-old Mumbai man dies
- Coronavirus: Number of COVID-19 deaths in UK rises by 53 to 233
- New COVID-19 restrictions on travel within WA as big queues form on WA/SA border ahead of closure
- Italy’s New Coronavirus Cases Drop Slightly, Prompting Hope
- Kerala reports 12 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, near shutdown in Kasaragod
- British ambassador thanks Vietnam for helping UK citizens affected by COVID-19
- Number of new coronavirus cases in NSW drops, overall infections now at 1,219
- Gurugram doctor among seven new Covid-19 patients in Delhi-NCR
- Vermont coronavirus deaths up to 8, with 123 confirmed cases
- Big jump in number of new coronavirus cases in Mississippi
- Romania records first two COVID-19 deaths
- Coronavirus UK LIVE: Lockdown to last ‘over three weeks’ as 8,000 are infected and 422 dead
- Top news of the day: Kerala reports 28 new coronavirus cases, India's death toll rises to 8; Sensex suffers worst ever one-day crash, and more
- Coronavirus lockdown LIVE: UK death toll rises to 462 as confirmed cases continue to climb
- Xinhua Headlines: No new coronavirus cases in Wuhan sends encouragement to world
- Coronavirus: 6 new positive cases in Karnataka, total rises to 26
Infections and deaths BOTH fall: UK records 30,004 new Covid cases, down 22% week-on-week, as daily deaths plunge 9% to 610 have 3179 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at January 24, 2021. This is cached page on Game Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.