England’s Covid cases plummet to 54,200 in 40% weekly drop as only 1 in 1,000 people had the virus last week, ONS survey shows

  • Experts said this week’s report is the first evidence lockdown loosening in April had not increased spread 
  • Weekly testing survey estimates number of people with virus last week was down from 90,000 a week earlier
  • There is now overwhelming evidence that Covid cases and deaths have been all but stamped out in the UK
  • Next lockdown easing is expected in three weeks’ time and it could end for good in less than 2 months
  • Other data show one in three people (22million) live in areas where not a single person has died of it in April

The number of people with coronavirus in England plummeted by 40 per cent to just 54,200 infections last week meaning only one in every 1,010 people are now carrying the virus.

A weekly report from the Office for National Statistics today estimated the total number of infections is lower than at any point since early September and suggested it has been falling constantly for five weeks.

Its data showed that cases were still tumbling in all regions except Yorkshire and the East of England ‘where the trends are uncertain’. They also came down in all children and teenagers and people over 35, increasing only in young adults. 

Experts said the data ‘should be celebrated’ and were the first proof that, despite the reopening of outdoor hospitality and allowing the rule of six earlier this month, there was still ‘no evidence of an increased transmission risk’.

The Covid Symptom Study yesterday agreed that cases were still coming down in England, with the estimated number of people falling sick each day dropping to a record low of just 757 last week. 

Evidence that Covid has been stamped out in Britain is now overwhelming as the vaccine rollout speeds ahead and official figures show 22million people – one in three – live in areas where not a single person has died with the virus this month. 

It marks a seismic shift from the UK’s dire situation in January at the height of the second wave, when fewer than 50,000 Britons were in places with zero coronavirus victims during that month. 

Its data showed that cases were still tumbling in all regions except Yorkshire and the East of England ‘where the trends are uncertain’. In most places the rate of infection is a miniscule 0.1 per cent and it appeared to be 0 in the South West, although the survey is not big enough to pick up tiny numbers of cases

Infections also came down in all children and teenagers and people over 35, increasing only in young adults

Professor Paul Hunter, a medicine professor at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘Today’s report of the ONS Coronavirus Infection survey confirms what we have been seeing in the daily reports of new case numbers. Taken together this is good evidence that case numbers are still in decline across all four countries within the UK.

‘What makes this week’s results particularly important is that this would be the first week when there would be any evidence that the relaxation of the 12th April would have had a negative impact on the epidemic. That there is in fact no evidence of an increased transmission risk is reassuring that for the time being at least it looks like the current Road map is still on target.’

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have decreased in all regions of England except in Yorkshire and the Humber and in eastern England, where the trend is uncertain, the ONS said.

Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to April 24: around one in 530.

South West England had the lowest estimate: around one in 2,980.     

NHS England statistics going up to April 25 show that 65 per cent of adults in the age group have had their first dose of either the AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna jab. But MailOnline analysis shows inoculation rates vary wildly across the country. Seven local authorities have seen fewer than half of residents in the age group

Despite every region seeing Covid cases decrease overall, some councils saw an increase in cases in the week ending April 25. Public Health England data breaks the country down into 149 different areas

Four-fifths of areas in England saw coronavirus infections drop in week ending April 18. Places in Shropshire, South Tyneside, Haringey and East Sussex recorded rises of at least 50 per cent – but because the virus is circulating in such small numbers, even small outbreaks will skew the rate upwards

Analysis by BBC News shows some areas have gone even longer than a month without reporting a Covid death —  Plymouth last recorded one 57 days ago and Oxford and Maidstone, in Kent, have gone two months. 

Britain has been able to turn the tide on the Covid crisis so quickly thanks to tough lockdown restrictions and the success of the vaccine programme, which today opened up to everyone over 40 in England. It is expected to be expanded to include over-30s within a fortnight. 

Latest figures show another 462,000 second and 134,000 first vaccine doses were dished out on Wednesday. In total, 48million jabs have been given across the UK, including 14million second doses. 

The death statistics analysed by the BBC, which go up to April 29, shows fewer than 600 deaths within 28 days of a positive test have been reported this month, compared with more than 30,000 throughout the same period in January.

More than half (56 per cent) of local authorities in Scotland haven’t yet recorded a virus fatality this April, with only Glasgow posting more than nine so far.

In England 44 per cent of authorities are yet to record one. The areas are scattered all over the country, showing how the situation is improving everywhere and is not limited to certain regions.

Death data was described by Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) group, as ‘really good news’.

‘We’ve seen several parts of the country where prevalence is really, really low. So, I think it gives us confidence,’ he told BBC News. 

But another Government scientist, Professor Graham Medley, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, took a more cautious stance, adding: ‘We have seen before, when things go wrong they can go wrong quickly.’

However, the vaccines have not only been shown to dramatically reduce a person’s chance of falling ill with the virus, a Public Health England analysis earlier this week found they also stop them from spreading it to others. 

There are 1,553 patients in hospital with Covid-19, the lowest figure for seven months and down from a peak of 39,000 in January. 

Professor Tim Spector, the King’s College London epidemiologist said elderly people who have had both jabs should now get out and socialise.

He told the Mirror: ‘Rates are low, we’re not out of it yet but we can be optimistic. We shouldn’t be too worried about meeting people outside. I think we can start to increasingly enjoy life as long as we’re sensible.

Twenty areas of England have already jabbed 80% of 45 to 49 year olds… but parts of London and Lancashire have yet to hit 50%

England’s coronavirus vaccine postcode lottery was laid bare again today as data revealed parts of London and Lancashire have jabbed fewer than half of residents aged 45 to 49.

NHS England statistics going up to April 25 show that 65 per cent of adults in the age group have had their first dose of either the AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna jab.

But MailOnline analysis shows inoculation rates vary wildly across the country. Seven local authorities have seen inoculated fewer than half of residents in the age group.

Kensington and Chelsea in London has the lowest uptake rate in the country by some distance, with just 6,678 of 15,384 people in the borough getting a first dose — an uptake rate of just 43.4 per cent.

For comparison, some 20 areas of the country have vaccinated more than 80 per cent of their residents in the age group. 

It comes as the NHS in England today expanded the inoculation drive to everyone aged 40 and over, with the roll-out continuing at pace despite supply issue fears.

Adults in their thirties are expected to start receiving texts inviting them to book an appointment to get their first jab within weeks.  

The UK has now dished out 34million first jabs and 14million adults are now fully vaccinated — more than a quarter of the population. It means almost 50million vaccines have already been dished out since the scheme began at the start of December.

‘This is reassuring for elderly people who have been isolating for a year and have been double vaccinated, to say, “Look guys, your risk is so small, you should get out there and socialise.”

‘Two elderly vaccinated people should be able to go out and give each other a hug. We’re just not being honest in that for people who are double vaccinated the risks are tiny. A lot of people are still being terrified by Government messages and may never go back to normal.’ 

Professor Karol Sikora, a medical expert at the University of Buckingham, told MailOnline the pandemic would be declared over now if the Government hadn’t been ‘frightened by messages from the Government’. 

From today, anyone aged 40 and over in England can book a vaccination. People are being invited via text from ‘NHSvaccine’, which includes a web link to the health service’s online booking service. This is set to be extended on May 10, when people aged 35 to 39 are likely to be called up for their first jabs. 

Meanwhile, The Telegraph reports that Boris Johnson will be told that social distancing can be scrapped at big outdoor events from June 21. Scientists monitoring the impact of letting fans back into the FA Cup semi-final, Carabao Cup final and the snooker World Championships have noted no spike in cases among attendees.  

This means they will advise the PM next week that crowds can return safely without social distancing in June – as long as measures such as staggering entries and good ventilation are put in place.   

Despite the positive data, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said yesterday Britons needed to be ‘careful’ and that it was too soon to hug or mix indoors.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health’s daily update revealed there were 2,445 cases in the past 24 hours and 22 deaths, with infections down 10 per cent from a week ago and deaths up slightly on the 18 last Thursday. 

Official data yesterday revealed coronavirus cases were down in every region of England and fewer people over the age of 80 are catching the virus than ever.

Public Health England’s weekly Covid report found just 6.3 per 100,000 people in the most vulnerable age group caught the disease in the week ending April 25, the lowest since surveillance data began last June. The infection rate among over-80s peaked at 623 in mid-January.

For over-60s, the rate was 9.1, down from 9.9 the week before and a high of 454 at the peak of the second wave. 

Every English region also saw falls in cases in the past week — despite millions more tests being deployed — with the lowest rates recorded in the South West (14.2), South East (17.2) and the East of England (20.5).  

But despite a plethora of evidence showing the virus is firmly in retreat, England faces at least seven more weeks of restrictions. June 21 has been earmarked as the earliest possible date that most curbs can be lifted.

The country’s largest symptom tracking study estimated just 757 people are getting sick with Covid every day in England. Across the whole of the UK, it is believed to be 1,046. Infections have never been lower, even compared to last summer when lockdown rules had been lifted and the virus was in retreat, according to the study which launched in May last year. 

Meanwhile, Test and Trace figures show infections fell by nine per cent in the week up to April 21, despite 600,000 more swabs being carried out. Out of 5.1million tests, just 16,776 were positive — the lowest weekly total since last September.

The positive data add to the continuing huge success of the vaccine rollout, which scientists have found is cutting transmission of the virus and keeping people out of hospital. Almost 70 per cent of England has Covid antibodies, separate figures revealed yesterday.

According to the King’s study, the current risk of getting infected with Covid in Britain is one in 45,000 — and just one in 100,000 in vaccinated people.  

It came as Matt Hancock received his first coronavirus jab yesterday morning. The 42-year-old Health Secretary was given the jab by England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam at the Science Museum in London. 

Despite yet more promising signs in official Covid data, No10 is still not giving way on its roadmap, saying it was still not a case for opening up the country sooner than planned. 

But vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said England was on track for a ‘further’ reopening of the economy on May 17 — when pubs and restaurants will reopen for indoor service and foreign travel resumes.

Earlier this week another minister suggested that restrictions on funerals could ease as part of a greater unlocking in the next stage of the roadmap. Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said stringent funeral rules were under ‘careful consideration’. At the moment a maximum of 30 mourners can attend and they have to socially distance.

Mr Zahawi also insisted the country was on track to come out of lockdown as planned on June 21, when all legal limits on social contacts are set to be abolished. But critics say life will not fully return to normal because masks, mass testing and Covid passports will likely play a key role in daily life.  

Yesterday’s PHE report found case rates in England have fallen slightly among most age groups, with a slight rise in others, Public Health England said.

The age groups recording a slight rise were 10 to 19-year-olds, with 45.5 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to April 25, up week-on-week from 44.0; five to nine-year-olds, up from 13.6 to 13.9; four and under, up from 8.4 to 8.9; and 60 to 69-year-olds, up from 12.3 to 12.6.

Case rates in all regions of England have fallen. 

Yorkshire and the Humber recorded the highest rate in the seven days to April 25: 44.7 cases per 100,000 people, down very slightly from 46.0 in the previous week. South West England had the lowest rate: 14.2, broadly unchanged from 14.4.

The PHE surveillance study relies on the centralised testing database and is one of the best indicators of the country’s Covid situation.

The King’s College London Covid Symptom Study relies on around one million volunteers reporting their symptoms and test results through a mobile app. 

But coronavirus cases are now so uncommon that the system is struggling to accurately predict the size of the outbreak. 

The fact that vaccines mean fewer and fewer people are susceptible to the disease also means the case rate cannot be directly scaled up to the British population. 

Professor Spector said: ‘Low incidence and high immunisation rates in the UK makes it currently difficult for Covid surveillance surveys to extrapolate infection data to the wider population. 

‘As a result, we’re assessing our methodology to make sure ZOE continues to produce accurate and reliable Covid data. It’s a great position to be in.  

‘It’s very reassuring that low rates continue despite reopening gyms and outdoor areas in pubs and restaurants, and bodes well for further relaxation of restrictions in line with the government roadmap out of lockdown.’

Other promising data from Test and Trace showed positive tests fell by nine per cent to 16,776 in the seven days to April 21 – despite a surge in testing. For comparison, at the peak of the second wave almost 400,000 cases were being transferred for tracing every week.

As many as 5,081,932 swabs for the virus were carried out in the week to April 21, 15 per cent more than the more than 4.4million done in the previous week. 

Mr Zahawi said there was nothing in the ‘really promising’ data that would threaten Britain’s return to normality.  

He told the Today programme yesterday morning: ‘The good news is that vaccinations are working. About 70 per cent of the adult population of England now have antibodies, almost two-thirds have had a single dose, a quarter have had two doses.

‘[There are] lots of really good things, but we have to remain cautious and we will continue to look at the data… But the good news is May 17 looks good, June 21 looks good too.’ 

In an interview with LBC, he added that England was on track for a ‘further’ reopening on May 17.

But, tempering expectations, Mr Zahawi warned the Government was still uneasy about green-lighting mass gathering like summer festivals. 

He added: ‘If you are now booking, then you do carry some risk, clearly because we have to follow the data.’   

It came after Jonathan Van-Tam claimed the UK is ‘at or close to the bottom’ of its Covid outbreak’.

He told a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday that he was ‘hopeful’ about Britain getting back to normal in the coming months and said vaccines should mean tough national lockdowns won’t happen again.

Professor Van-Tam compared the situation now to last September’s, before the devastating second wave ignited by the Kent variant, and said: ‘The vaccine has undoubtedly helped… it really is the way out of getting into trouble of the same size and magnitude ever again.’ 

His comments came on the back of a major Office for National Statistics (ONS) testing survey that revealed nearly seven in 10 adults in Britain now have coronavirus antibodies. It suggests the majority of the population now has some immunity against the disease. 

Meanwhile, hopes that restrictions on funerals could ease in weeks were boosted earlier this week as Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey hinted they could change on May 17. 

She said the stringent rules were under ‘careful consideration’ for the next stage of the roadmap out of lockdown after being challenged during an interview on LBC radio over why thousands of football fans can return to stadiums in trial events but funeral mourners are limited to 30. 

Miss Coffey said: ‘I know that this particular issue is under careful consideration for the next step of the roadmap, which is due to come in the next few weeks.’

It is not clear which rules could be relaxed, but last week the Mail revealed that grieving families may be able to hug at funerals next month. Government sources said they were ‘hopeful’ that a review would relax social distancing rules within weeks.

At the moment, mourners must stay at least two metres from those outside their household or support bubble. The rules have been branded ‘inhumane’, and MPs, ministers and charities have joined forces to call for an urgent review. 

Separate promising analysis published on Wednesday revealed a single dose of vaccine slashes the risk of spreading coronavirus to a member of your household by up to half. This means not only do they reduce the chance of catching Covid in the first place, the jabs greatly reduce the chances of passing it on. 

The analysis, which involved almost 1.5million adults, is the first of its kind to confirm the effectiveness of the vaccines in curbing the virus’s ability to spread.

The new study on transmission of the virus found that adults who received the Pfizer vaccine – but still caught the virus – were 49 per cent less likely to spread it to other household members than those who weren’t inoculated.

The results for the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab were not quite as good but nonetheless, those who received it were 38 per cent less likely to transmit it to others in their household.

But the fact that both vaccines dramatically reduce the virus’s ability to spread – as well as preventing serious illness – offer renewed hope that they hold the key to a return to normal life.

They have already been shown to reduce coronavirus hospitalisations and deaths by 80 per cent after one dose, rising even higher after full immunity. 

NHS England began offering people a jab to people aged 42 and over this week and the programme is expected to open to people in their 30s next week.

Source: Read Full Article