Guardian News and Media/London
Coronavirus infections in the UK have fallen for the sixth consecutive day, with 24,950 lab-confirmed cases reported. It is the lowest daily figure in more than three weeks.
Hospital admission and occupancy rates – which tend to reflect the infection rates around two weeks before – have risen over the last week, with the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in England passing 5,000 for the first time since mid-March.
The seven-day average for hospital admissions, which smooths out irregularities in reporting over the weekend, has risen by 26% in the last week.
Meanwhile, hospital bed occupancy for coronavirus patients has also increased significantly in the last week, with occupancy of mechanical ventilation beds rising by 31% and other bed occupancy up by 33%.
Last Monday, 39,950 cases and 72 deaths were recorded.
Case numbers for the UK have been falling since England reached its final stage of unlocking a week ago.
However, in a briefing before yesterday’s figure was announced, No 10 said the recent fall in new cases could be reversed.
Scientists are unclear about whether the recent fall in daily cases means the infections have passed their their third-wave peak.
Downing Street has indicated that they may not have, saying the full impact of the July 19 unlocking has not yet been reflected in case numbers.
Asked how the government interpreted the most recent figures, the No 10 spokesperson said: “Obviously any reduction in cases is encouraging. But the prime minister has stressed many times before that the pandemic is not over and we are not out of the woods yet.
“We said last week, when we moved to step 4, that allowing large numbers of people to meet in indoor settings would have an impact on case numbers, and it remains the case that we won’t have seen the impact of step 4 yet in terms of cases numbers.
“So, as we always do, we will continue to keep all the stats under the review.”
Nearly nine out of 10 adults in the UK (88.1%) have now had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 70.5% of the adult population are fully vaccinated.
Yesterday’s figures show that a further 24,551 people received their first dose, and 117,956 had their second.
Figures for deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 were delayed due to technical difficulties, according to the government dashboard.
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