The UK has recorded a further 39,842 Covid cases and 165 deaths today.

Figures released this afternoon by the Department of Health show a significant 23 percent drop in daily infections on seven days ago when there was 52,009.

While fatalities continue to see a worrying rise, with Thursday, October 21, seeing 115 - a difference of 43 percent compared to today.

It comes as yesterday Britain reached 140,000 virus-related deaths since the pandemic started.

Wednesday also saw the death toll top 200 for two consecutive days for the first time in almost eight months.

The last time the toll was so high for multiple days in a row was between March 2 and March 5, peaking at 343.

Boris Johnson has been warned he may have to make face masks compulsory again (

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PA)

With winter fast approaching, hospital admissions also continue to go up, with a daily total of 962 and a 10 percent increase on average over the last seven days.

The continued rise in infections has been blamed on children returning to school in September but experts say most youngsters in England who are susceptible have now already had it.

It means figures in the lower age groups should continue to tail off, with some estimates suggesting the peak of this latest wave will be over by early November.

Experts believe the majority of school age children susceptible to the virus have already had it (

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AFP via Getty Images)

Around three-quarters of children aged between five and 14 are believed to have already been infected with the virus, according to real-time data from the MRC Biostatistics Unit (BSU), at the University of Cambridge.

And nearly 50 percent of school-age kids under 15 caught it between early September and October 20 - taking the total infected to 76 per cent.

Any positivity, however, comes with plenty of caution as Downing Street's Chief Scientific Adviser has warned PM Boris Johnson he must be prepared to "move fast" to impose Plan B Covid measures if infections spiral.

Sir Patrick Vallance said the UK was still in a "very uncertain phase" of the pandemic (

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Jonathan Buckmaster)

Sir Patrick Vallance said the UK was still in a "very uncertain phase" of the pandemic - and the Government needed to be ready to introduce the likes of compulsory face masks and vaccine passports if the situation worsens.

He said such measures needed to remain on the table and ministers need to "push beyond natural reluctance" to impose new Covid curbs.

The Government's Covid Winter plan contains a list of contingency measures if the virus begins to surge, known as Plan B.

England's red list for travel is to be scrapped (

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Getty Images)

Minutes from a SAGE meeting on October 14 emerged last week, which show Government scientific advisers urged the PM to trigger Plan B ahead of the winter.

But the Government has been reluctant to act, with ministers repeatedly saying that the data doesn't point to a need for more restrictions.

Meanwhile, this afternoon it has been confirmed the last seven countries will be removed from the England's “red list” for foreign travel - meaning no one will have to quarantine in hotels any more.

Ministers decided today to remove Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela from the list, it is understood.

The move has not yet been formally announced by the Department for Transport. Usually Scotland and Wales mirror decisions for England but that is not yet confirmed.

It means mandatory 11-night, £2.285-a-head hotel quarantine will now be paused for the first time since it was controversially launched in February.

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