CORONAVIRUS cases have dropped by 20 per cent in a week as 15,871 new infections were recorded in the past 24 hours.
Today’s increase in infections brings the total to 1,605,172 as deaths rose by 479.
A couple is seen walking in central Manchester, which faces Tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday[/caption]
Today’s daily case load is smaller than last week’s figure of 19,875 in a sign that lockdown measures are finally slowing the spread.
And it is down by 40 per cent on the 23,860 infections reported a fortnight ago.
Today’s rise in deaths brings the total to 58,030.
It comes as:
- Data shows the number of daily coronavirus cases has plunged to almost half the amount recorded at the end of October
- A major incident was declared at a hospital after a swell in Covid patients left just seven ventilators
- The government’s strict tier system won’t be lifted until Easter Monday to protect the NHS
- Towns and villages and near coronavirus hotspots could be lifted out of tougher tiers to squash Tory MP rebellion
- Anti-lockdown protesters descended on London despite warnings they face arrest
Separate figures from NHS England showed 370 further deaths registered across UK hospitals today.
England saw 289 further hospital deaths, while Scotland saw 44 and Wales reported 29 fatalities.
Northern Ireland recorded eight further deaths.
Across England, 153 of the victims were aged 80 or older; 112 were 60 to 79; 22 were 40 to 59; and two were 20 to 39.
All except 16 (aged 45-92) had known underlying health conditions.
Hospitals in the Midlands saw the highest number of fatalities with 81 recorded, while East of England hospitals reported the lowest total of 15.
It comes as separate data showed that the number of daily coronavirus cases has plunged to almost half the amount recorded at the end of October.
There are currently 24,937 new infections being logged every day in Britain – almost half the 43,569 recorded daily during the last week of October, according tothe ZOE Covid Symptom Study app.
Professor Tim Spector, who is leading the ZOE app research, wrote on Twitter: “Great data from the Zoe CSS app as new cases in UK starting to fall rapidly – now under 25,000 per day in UK (peak was 43,000) with R of 0.9 in nearly all areas.”
But these figures are still significantly larger than those declared everyday by the government.
Current estimations from SAGE put the R rate – the rate of infection – at between 0.9 and 1.
When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially, but below that number would suggest the epidemic is shrinking.
The North West, once the country’s Covid hotspot before lockdown, is now the area with the lowest R rate – but still faces Tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday.
ENDS IN TIERS
England’s national lockdown will come to an end from Wednesday, and will be replaced by a tougher tier system.
Under the restrictions, non-essential shops will open in all Tiers but the hospitality industry will remain closed in Tier 3 except for takeaway and delivery.
In Tier 2, restaurants and bars will remain open but Brits can only mix with their household indoors and must order a ‘substantial meal’ to be served alcohol.
Schools, gyms and places of worship will open in every tier.
Five regions across the nation will jump from Tier 1 straight up to 3 after cases in some parts of their areas shot up.
Just three areas will be under the lowest Tier 1 restrictions – Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly.
Boris Johnson said yesterday he realised the rules are “frustrating” – particularly for people in areas of low infection – but said they are necessary to control the disease.
But the PM faces a significant backlash to the rules – with 70 MPs considering voting against the measures when they are brought to the House of Commons.
A major incident was also declared earlier at a hospital in Stoke after a swell in coronavirus patients left just seven ventilators available.
The critical care unit at Royal Stoke University Hospital increased its alert level as 38 of its 322 Covid patients are on the machines.
The shortage of ventilators forced the hospital to strike a deal with NHS trusts in Birmingham and Coventry and Warwickshire to transfer some of their critically-ill patients.
Royal Stoke chief executive Tracy Bullock apologised to families and patients affected.
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Anti-lockdown protesters have also descended on central London despite warnings they face arrest.
Demonstrators hit the streets of the capital – many not wearing masks – to protest the tough government measures to slow the spread of the bug.
Police were seen at King’s Cross in central London arresting protesters this morning.