Great Britain

Covid-19 cases drop for sixth day — but hospital admissions rise

The number of new Covid cases in Britain has fallen for the sixth day in a row, boosting hopes the third wave of the pandemic may have peaked.

However, the number of people hospitalised with coronavirus is at its highest level for four months, the latest government statistics showed.

As of 9am on Monday, there were 24,950 new cases of Covid, the sixth day in a row the daily case numbers have fallen.

Cases burst through the 60,000 a day barrier on 16 July and both scientists and ministers warned that they would probably climb to well over 100,000 a day as the final lockdown restrictions were lifted days later.

However, surprising almost everyone, new Covid cases have since more than halved in just over a week.

Dr Mike Tildesley, an infectious diseases expert, said the end of the school term was likely partly behind the falling numbers of new infections, but it was too soon to tell if the easing of restrictions on 19 July had had any impact on the spread of the virus.

The government also said that a further 14 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid as of Monday, bringing the UK total since the pandemic began to 129,172.

Despite the good news on new infections, the number of English people needing hospital treatment for coronavirus has continued to rise, up to 5,055 according to the latest statistics from NHS England.

This was an increase of 33 per cent from the previous week and the highest level since 18 March.

It is well known that hospitalisations lag some way behind new case numbers, and modellers expect if the collapse in new cases continues within a week or two there will also be a corresponding fall in hospital admissions.

Scientific experts, including those advising the government, are unsure what could be behind the sudden decline in the spread of coronavirus, although some fear it points not toa genuine collapse in transmission but instead less testing.

Dr Tildesley told BBC Radio 4 he was “cautiously optimistic” about the drop in cases, but it was too early to tell if it really showed the third wave was now ebbing.

“Any situation where cases are falling clearly is good news,” he said, “[but] I think what we need to think about is that there has been a change recently and I think the big one is that in a lot of parts of the country, schools have now closed for the summer."

Many pupils were taking two lateral flow Covid tests a week, and this system ending with the school holidays could mean large numbers of new infections among the young were now going undetected in the official statistics.

A Number 10 spokesman said the fall in coronavirus cases was "encouraging" but numbers were still expected to rise, adding that "the Prime Minister thinks we’re not out of the woods yet".

The government has also announced it is expanding its local testing sites for frontline workers, to ensure those “pinged” by the app or NHS Test and Trace could continue working and not self-isolate if they had tested negative.

There are now more than 2,000 sites across the country for those working in key positions in prisons, waste collection, defence, the food industry, transport, Border Force and police and fire services to take daily lateral flow tests and avoid unnecessary self-isolation if deemed a close contact of a new positive test.

Meanwhile, hopes for holidays to the United States this year have been dashed after it emerged the US government was not intending to relax its tough border controls which are currently barring travellers from the UK.

But British ministers are reportedly close to agreeing a reciprocal deal with 33 other countries to allow quarantine-free travel, boosting the chances of a European getaway for millions of Britons.

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