Health

UK’s daily Covid cases fall to another five-week low of 21,691

Britain’s daily Covid cases fell to another five-week low today as hospitalisations continued to drop, official data revealed. 

Department of Health bosses posted 21,691 positive tests, which was 7.7 per cent down on last week’s figure and the fewest recorded since late June. 

But there are early signs the pace of the drop is slowing, suggesting the effects of ‘Freedom Day’ are starting to trickle through into the Government’s data. For comparison, daily cases last Tuesday were 50 per cent down on the previous seven-day spell. 

Covid hospitalisations also fell again. Another 731 admissions were recorded by officials on July 30, the latest date available — down 15 per cent on the week before. 

Deaths linked to the virus are still rising, however, with health chiefs announcing another 138 today. This was up 5.3 per cent compared to last Tuesday and was the highest daily figure since March. 

But experts today admitted they expect coronavirus fatalities — which are always higher on Tuesdays because of the recording lag at the weekend — to peak next week, with the country now being close to being ‘over the hill’.  

No10’s minister for apprenticeships and skill Gillian Keegan told LBC today that the drop in Covid admissions was ‘very, very promising’. 

It comes after official data revealed today just 14 postcodes in England and Wales have suffered zero Covid deaths since the start of the pandemic. An Office for National Statistics (ONS) report published today broke down all of the fatalities seen across the two countries’ 7,200 neighbourhoods. 

Some 14 postcodes in England and Wales suffered no Covid deaths since the start of the pandemic, official data that breaks down fatalities in all 7,200 neighbourhoods in the countries has shown. Graph shows: The amount of Covid and non-Covid deaths in England and Wales from January 3, 2020, to July 23, 2021

Some 14 postcodes in England and Wales suffered no Covid deaths since the start of the pandemic, official data that breaks down fatalities in all 7,200 neighbourhoods in the countries has shown. Graph shows: The amount of Covid and non-Covid deaths in England and Wales from January 3, 2020, to July 23, 2021

Now Boris ‘is poised to ditch amber plus and green watchlist’

Ministers are preparing to streamline the travel traffic light rules in a move which would pave the way for summer holidays to France to resume following a ferocious backlash from Tory MPs and aviation bosses.

Travel chiefs believe the current system is far too complex and confusing and some experts have claimed the Government is now poised to axe some of the more complicated categories to get back to the original red, amber and green approach.

Experts have claimed the existing ‘green watchlist’ – a category which refers to countries rated as green but in danger of being moved to amber – will be scrapped.

But crucially they have also predicted the ‘amber plus’ list – a category which currently only includes France and requires all travellers, including the fully-vaccinated, to quarantine on their return to England – will be dropped.

Boris Johnson is under pressure from aviation chiefs to scrap the Government's traffic light travel rules

Boris Johnson is under pressure from aviation chiefs to scrap the Government’s traffic light travel rules

Moving France back to the normal amber list would provide a massive boost to the travel industry because double-jabbed Brits could return from there without having to spend 10 days in isolation.

Travel expert Paul Charles, director of The PC Agency travel consultancy, said he had been told by ‘high level sources’ that ‘amber plus’ and the ‘green watchlist’ will be ditched and that ‘simplicity is to return’.

Education Minister Gillian Keegan had earlier appeared to hint that changes will be made as she said the Government wants the rules to be ‘simple enough for people to really understand’ and to take decisions ‘based on the system so we have the red list countries, the amber list countries and the green list countries’.

Boris Johnson yesterday abandoned controversial Government plans to introduce a new category to the system: the ‘amber watchlist’. It would have been used to identify countries which are amber but at imminent risk of turning red. 

In other Covid news:

  • Ministers are preparing to streamline the travel traffic light rules in a move which would pave the way for summer holidays to France to resume following a ferocious backlash from Tory MPs and aviation bosses; 
  • British tour operators claimed ‘almost every’ hotel they work with in Europe is turning away summer bookings in favour of firms from other countries because UK tourists are not confident enough to travel;
  • Nicola Sturgeon was accused of ‘clinging on to large parts of people’s lives’ as she revealed lockdown will officially end in Scotland next week – but some laws will remain in place indefinitely;
  • Mask-free Sweden is approaching zero Covid deaths per day, while the country’s chief epidemiologist has swatted away fears over the Delta variant’s infectiousness;
  • MailOnline analysis revealed only seven of England’s 300-plus areas saw its positivity rate rise, in more proof the drop in Covid cases is genuine.

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia, warned yesterday that the decline in cases was likely to slow in the coming weeks because of July 19 easings.

He said: ‘Whether we see a continuing decline over the coming weeks or see cases plateau is not clear.

‘But I doubt we will see further rapid falls or indeed increases over the next month.’

He said the impact of the final round of lockdown easings should now be ‘obvious’ in the statistics. 

It takes at least a week for someone who is infected with the virus to start developing tell-tale symptoms and get a positive test.

Professor Hunter also said hospitalisations were clearly plateauing and were likely to start falling in the next few days, with deaths set to follow a week later.

The former head of health data at the Office for National Statistics Jamie Jenkins told LBC this morning England and Wales may now be ‘over the hill when it comes to deaths’.

He said: ‘[Cases] in England and Wales have been coming down since July 19.

‘The cases have been falling for a couple of weeks there, then you get that time-lag effect when cases start coming down, around five or six days later you start seeing hospital admissions come down. And then you start seeing deaths come down.

‘I think looking at the data, we normally see deaths peaking around 14 days after cases come down, I think we might start being over the hill now when it comes to deaths.’

Mr Jenkins added: ‘We probably are over the edge of the wave at the moment but let’s have a bit of caution as we go into the autumn period.’

It comes after ONS statistics revealed which neighbourhoods had been most heavily hit by the pandemic. 

The Sheffield district of Crabtree and Fir Vale had the most excess deaths — the amount of deaths above the five-year average — during the first wave, the data showed. It recorded 123 deaths between March and July 2020 — 77 more than the average (46), an excess of 167 per cent.

The West St Leonards area of Hastings in Sussex fared the worst in the second wave, with 184 deaths between September and March — 55 per cent more than the average for that time of the year.

But 14 areas of England and Wales — including parts of Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset — recorded no Covid fatalities at all.

And the figures appeared to show a huge urban/rural divide, with inner city neighbourhoods in London, Essex and Manchester suffering the most excess deaths across the pandemic.

Separate ONS data released today showed coronavirus deaths in England and Wales hit a three-month high in the week ending July 23. There were 327 deaths across the countries, the highest total since April 16, when 362 were recorded. 

In a sign that fatalities may start to flatten out or even fall within the next week, Covid hospital admissions fell by nearly 20 per cent in England. Some 593 infected patients were admitted for medical treatment on July 31, the most recent day NHS figures are available for. For comparison, 734 patients were hospitalised the previous Saturday

In a sign that fatalities may start to flatten out or even fall within the next week, Covid hospital admissions fell by nearly 20 per cent in England. Some 593 infected patients were admitted for medical treatment on July 31, the most recent day NHS figures are available for. For comparison, 734 patients were hospitalised the previous Saturday

No ‘Freedom Day’ for Scots as Nicola Sturgeon is accused of ‘clinging on to large parts of people’s lives’ by KEEPING lockdown laws on masks and mass events ‘indefinitely’ 

The First Minister confirmed the country would exit Level 0, ending social distancing and limits in the size of social gatherings, on August 9.

 The First Minister confirmed the country would exit Level 0, ending social distancing and limits in the size of social gatherings, on August 9.

Nicola Sturgeon was accused of ‘clinging on to large parts of people’s lives’ as she revealed lockdown will officially end next week – but some laws will remain in place indefinitely.

The First Minister confirmed the country would exit Level 0, ending social distancing and limits in the size of social gatherings, on August 9.

But she said it was too early to declare freedom from Covid as she confirmed face coverings will still be required by law indoors and large events with capacities of more than 2,000 inside and 5,000 outside will have to gain special permission to take place.

Schoolchildren will also have to wear mask in lessons and socially distance in schools for six weeks from September.

But in a move that will heap pressure on Boris Johnson amid the English ‘pingdemic’, self-isolation requirements will be dropped if someone passes a PCR test from Monday, a week before the quarantine requirement ends in England.

Announcing that face coverings would remain mandatory the First Minister said it was ‘premature’ to suggest the pandemic had been beaten.

She also raised the spectre of some restrictions returning in winter, saying she could not rule it out.

But Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross accused her of ‘moving the goalposts’ by keeping masks and other measures in place.

‘There are some welcome steps in the right direction but these ongoing restrictions will hold Scotland back,’ he said.

‘We are beyond Level 0, at Level -1 or -2 and still the Government is clinging on to large parts of people’s lives.’

The ONS data released today broke down monthly excess deaths in middle layer super output areas (MSOA) — statistical areas home to around 8,000 people each — for the first time ever.

Crabtree and Fir Vale recorded the most Covid deaths from March 2020 to April 2021 with 78. 

It was followed by West St Leonard (71), Walton and Frinton Coastal in Tendring (70) and Haywards Heath West in Mid Sussex (67).

However, reviewing the percentage of excess deaths — which take into account fatalities from all causes and not just Covid — present a different picture, with urban areas of London and the South East suffering the worst. 

Stamford Hill North in Hackney, east London, had the highest proportion, with fatalities 285 per cent above the five year average during the first wave of the pandemic.

It was followed by Forest Gate South in Newham, south London (263 per cent), Purfleet, South Stifford and Lakesde in Thurrock, Essex (226 per cent) and Tottenham Green West and Canary Wharf, London (both 200 per cent). 

In the second wave, Aldershot Town in Hampshire had the highest excess deaths, with rates 208 per cent above the five year average.

Old Oak and Wormwood in Hammersmith, London, followed with deaths 200 per cent higher than average, while Lozells East and Balsall Heath East in Birmingham had rates of 194 per cent and 181 per cent, respectively.  

It comes as Mr Johnson was reportedly poised to ditch plans for the ‘amber plus’ watchlist today, amid calls to use just one list of banned nations to save the summer.

Travel chiefs believe the current system is far too complex and confusing and some experts have claimed the Government is now poised to axe some of the more complicated categories to get back to the original red, amber and green approach.

Experts have claimed the existing ‘green watchlist’ – a category which refers to countries rated as green but in danger of being moved to amber – will be scrapped.

But crucially they have also predicted the ‘amber plus’ list – a category which currently only includes France and requires all travellers, including the fully-vaccinated, to quarantine on their return to England – will be dropped.

Moving France back to the normal amber list would provide a massive boost to the travel industry because double-jabbed Brits could return from there without having to spend 10 days in isolation.

Travel expert Paul Charles, director of The PC Agency travel consultancy, said he had been told by ‘high level sources’ that ‘amber plus’ and the ‘green watchlist’ will be ditched and that ‘simplicity is to return’.

Education Minister Gillian Keegan had earlier appeared to hint that changes will be made as she said the Government wants the rules to be ‘simple enough for people to really understand’ and to take decisions ‘based on the system so we have the red list countries, the amber list countries and the green list countries’.

Boris Johnson yesterday abandoned controversial Government plans to introduce a new category to the system: the ‘amber watchlist’. It would have been used to identify countries which are amber but at imminent risk of turning red.

The Prime Minister intervened to torpedo the proposals after they provoked a wave of fury from Cabinet ministers, Tory MPs and the travel industry, with critics blasting the idea of adding a further level of complexity to the already chaotic system amid warnings it would prompt a collapse in bookings.

Travel firms welcomed the U-turn but immediately pressed the PM to go further as they called for the current system to be scrapped completely and replaced with a single ‘red list’ of banned countries.


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button