UK records another 13,308 Covid infections – down 27% on last week

The UK has recorded another 13,308 coronavirus infections – down 27 per cent on last week.

Daily deaths have also dropped by a quarter to 621 taking the total to 116,908 – although separate figures suggest the number could be much higher. 

The number of coronavirus cases have continued to drop as Boris Johnson today said he is ‘optimistic’ of being able to cautiously loosen lockdown.  

It marks the third Saturday in a row where deaths have dropped week-on-week. 

Data published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, suggest there have now been 135,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

It comes as: 

  • The number of Covid deaths in over-85s was found to be falling twice as fast it is in younger Britons; 
  • It was revealed illegal migrants were getting the Covid jab in plush quarantine hotels in Heathrow;
  • China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to a World Health Organization-led team probing the origins of the pandemic, one of the team’s investigators said;
  • Surge Covid testing will be rolled out in Hampshire, Middlesbrough and Walsall after cases of the variant were detected;
  • Matt Hancock said he hopes Covid will become a ‘treatable’ virus and a disease we can ‘live with’ after all adults are offered a vaccine by September; 
  • There were 15,144 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the seven-day average down 26.3 per cent on the previous week;
  • There were an additional 758 deaths, with the seven-day total down by 27.1 per cent.

Boris Johnson has said he is ‘optimistic’ of being able to cautiously loosen lockdown when he unveils his roadmap on the week of February 22. Pictured on a visit to Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies plant in Billingham, Teesside today

The Government also said that, as of 9am on Saturday, the total number of cases in the UK to 4,027,106. 

In other good news, the total number of vaccines given in the UK has hit 15,091,696, data up to February 12 revealed. Of those, 14,556,827 were first doses.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister today reaffirmed his immediate commitment to reopen schools on March 8 but also suggested he hoped to make announcements on non-essential shops and pubs. 

Speaking on a visit to a plant in Billingham, Teesside, where the new Novavax vaccine will be manufactured, he said: ‘I’m optimistic, I won’t hide it from you. I’m optimistic, but we have to be cautious.’ 

He added: ‘Our children’s education is our number one priority, but then working forward, getting non-essential retail open as well and then, in due course as and when we can prudently, cautiously, of course we want to be opening hospitality as well.

‘I will be trying to set out as much as I possibly can in as much detail as I can, always understanding that we have to be wary of the pattern of disease. We don’t want to be forced into any kind of retreat or reverse ferret.’ 

Praising the ‘miracles of science’, the PM also predicted that in the long-term we will have ‘to learn to live with’ coronavirus after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it could be a ‘treatable’ disease. 

Mr Johnson’s bullishness came as private government data showed hospitalisation rates were falling faster than expected. 

Modelling by Sage presented to Downing Street and leaked to The Times predicts hospital admissions and deaths will more than halve over the next month.

Patients battling coronavirus in hospital currently number around 24,000, but this figure is expected to be slashed to around 9,000 by mid-March. 

Yesterday 1,908 patients were taken to hospital in the UK, a massive drop in admission rates since the peak in January when around 4,500 were admitted on a single day. 

The R-rate has now been confirmed to be below 1 for the first time since July, with a pincer movement of vaccines and current restrictions credited for suppressing the virus. 

But in spite of tumbling hospitalisation, case and death rates, government advisers are urging the PM to hold off loosening the lockdown for at least another two months. 

The chair of the NHS Confederation Lord Adebowale said this morning the health service was still ‘on its knees’ and urged ministers to adopt extreme caution in any easing of restrictions. 

The PM is being pulled the other way by his hawkish backbenches, who have called for a sweeping away of all curbs by May. 

Last week the UK has recorded 18,262 new coronavirus cases – down a fifth on the week before. 

Britain’s daily death toll also plunged – with 828 fatalities 31 per cent lower than the 1,200 seen the week before.     

Covid deaths among over-85s plummet by 41% – almost twice as fast as un-vaccinated people over-65s 

The number of Covid deaths in over-85s is falling twice as fast it is in younger Brits, raising hopes that the UK’s vaccine drive is clicking into gear, with just one per cent of the population refusing jabs.

The Government’s target of administering 15 million doses is set to be hit this weekend, amid a backdrop of falling cases and deaths, with pressure growing on Boris Johnson to present his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown.

The supreme efforts of volunteers over recent weeks now appears to be paying dividends, with the number of fatalities among the oldest age group now falling on average by some 41 per cent a week.

By contrast, the number of weekly deaths is falling by 22 per cent for those aged under 65.  

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a risk expert from the University of Cambridge, told the Sun: ‘There is a statistically significant difference between the age groups. A substantial amount of this difference will be vaccines.

‘And, by the end of the month, it’s going to be quite dramatic. It is quite tricky to spot as deaths are falling everywhere — it’s just that in older groups the drop is much faster than others.’

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