THE number of people testing positive for Covid in the UK has dropped for the fifth day in a row, with another 21,691 infections recorded in 24 hours.
But a further 138 virus deaths were reported in the same 24-hour period - the highest daily total for almost five months.
Today's figures bring the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 5,923,820.
The UK Covid death toll now stands at 129,881.
Cases are down from yesterday's 21,952, and significantly lower than last week when a further 23,511 new infections were recorded.
But deaths are up from the 24 reported yesterday and July 27 when fatalities rose by 131.
Today's fatality total is the highest since March 17 when 141 lost their lives.
The falling case numbers coincide with a rise in Covid vaccinations.
A whopping 85,488,857 doses have been administered across the UK.
A total of 46,898,525 Brits have received their first dose, while 38,590,332 second doses have been given.
'THROUGH THE THIRD WAVE'
The latest government data comes after an expert hailed falling cases as "further evidence" we're through the third wave.
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at The Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia, said the figures "represent the first day that any impact of the opening of society on July 19 would have been obvious in the statistics".
He added: "We can now see that in England new admissions to hospital have peaked.
"The fact that hospital admissions are now falling provides further evidence that the decline in cases in the last couple of weeks was real and not due to an artefact from changing testing or people deleting the NHS Covid app as some have suggested."
But despite falling cases, fears surrounding potential Covid variants remain.
It comes as...
A minister announced today vaccine passports could be introduced in pubs if Britain finds itself battling new variants.
Skills minister Gillian Keegan said No 10 would have to "take action" if dangerous new strains are imported through international travel.
She also confirmed that Boris Johnson is looking at widening the use of compulsory beyond nightclubs to other large, indoor events.
Vaccines have been hailed as the way out of the pandemic.
While no jab is 100 per cent effective, vaccinations have proven to reduce the risk of severe illness.
Analysis from Public Health England and the University of Cambridge also suggests vaccines have so far prevented over 52,600 hospitalisations, an estimated 22 million infections and more than 60,000 deaths in England alone.
Elsewhere, the NHS Covid app has at last been watered down so fewer people are 'pinged' and sent into self-isolation.
Only those in contact with a Covid case two days prior will be told to stay at home, compared to the current five days, the Government announced yesterday.
It will hopefully save thousands of people from needlessly quarantining at home despite negative test results.
Although, from August 16, fully vaccinated contacts in England will be exempt from isolation and instead will be advised to take a PCR test.
Those who are not fully vaccinated will still be required to isolate.