Great Britain

Covid cases fall for SEVENTH day in a row but deaths rise by 131 – highest since March

COVID cases have fallen for the SEVENTH day in a row with a further 23,511 cases reported - but daily deaths saw the biggest increase since March.

Though infections have fallen nearly 40 per cent in a week, today's rise in fatalities of 131 marks the highest toll in over four months.

Today’s rise in infections is well below the 38,925 recorded last Tuesday, and a significant decrease on the 46,717 reported a fortnight ago. 

Yesterday 24,950 new cases were recorded, down from 29,173 on Sunday, and 31,795 on Saturday.

Today's rise in cases means that a total of 5,745,526 people have been infected since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Deaths increased by 131, bringing the total to 129,303. As deaths lag infections by roughly two weeks, the rise reflects the higher caseload a fortnight ago.

Today's death toll is well over double last week’s figure of 53 and way above the 47 reported on July 13.

Hospitalisations also continue to climb with a further 945 admissions today. It marks a slight rise on last week’s figure of 922. 

In more positive developments, a further 64,585 Brits received their first dose of the vaccine yesterday - the highest number of jabs in ten days.

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Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director for Public Health England (PHE), said today's death toll showed the pandemic was "not over yet".

She said: “We know deaths follow when there are a high number of cases and data today highlights we are still in the third wave.

“We can all help. Meeting outside is safer than inside, get two doses of the vaccine as soon as you can and isolate if you are told to by NHS Test & Trace.

"If you show symptoms stay home and get a PCR test. Limiting your contacts is the best way to stop the virus spreading.”

The figures come as Professor Neil Ferguson - an advocate of tighter restrictions throughout the pandemic - said the country may finally be emerging from the pandemic. 

🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates

The expert - dubbed Professor Lockdown - said that vaccines had “fundamentally changed” the equation as data suggested the sustained fall in infections was more than just an anomaly. 

And he made an optimistic prediction for the Autumn, suggesting that the worst of the pandemic would be left behind by October and September. 

'LOOKING BACK'

Prof Ferguson told Radio 4's Today programme: "We are not completely out of the woods but the equation has fundamentally changed. The effect of the vaccines has been huge in reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death.

"And I think I'm positive that by late September/October time we will be looking back at most of the pandemic.” 

Professor Ferguson thinks the plateau in cases the UK is currently experiencing after a spike is due to Euro 2020 ending, the warm weather leading to outdoor socialising and open windows.

Experts have also suggested increased vaccination and a stop to secondary school testing, which was picking up symptomatic and asymptomatic cases, may be contributing to the drop.

On his grim prediction of 100,000 cases a day, he said: "I think it's too early to tell, the reductions we've seen at the moment occurred really before the unlocking took place and we won't see for several more weeks the effect of the unlocking.

"That said I'm quite happy to be wrong if it's wrong in the right direction, if case numbers stay low that'd be very good news."

STAY CAUTIOUS

Boris Johnson today urged people not to relax about Covid as cases fall - warning that the lifting of restrictions was not yet reflected in the data. 

The PM said: “I’ve noticed, obviously, that we are six days in to some better figures. But it is very, very important that we don’t allow ourselves to run away with premature conclusions about this.

“Step 4 of the opening-up only took place a few days ago, people have got to remain very cautious and that remains the approach of the government.”

Dr Christopher Jewell, an epidemiologist who sits on the government’s Spi-M panel of advisers, said the fall in cases was “perplexing”, adding: “We will know more as the week unfolds, but certainly our current model-based estimates have gone from R [being roughly] one three days ago to R being less than one today.”

He said: “I suspect that it has something to do with schools breaking up and contact patterns changing.

“We’d noticed a downturn in Scottish cases compared to elsewhere previously [Scotland breaks up and goes back earlier than England], which may support this hypothesis.”

Boris Johnson urges caution despite promising fall in Covid cases

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