UK's daily Covid cases plunge by 41% in a week

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UK’s daily Covid cases plunge by 41% in a week amid signs hospital pressure might have also peaked

  • Another 51,253 positive tests were logged by UKHSA bosses today, down 41 per cent on last week’s tally
  • But hospitalisations fell two days in a row for the first time since Freedom Day at the end of February 
  • 2,040 infected patients were admitted to hospital on Saturday, the latest date data is available for

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Daily Covid cases continued to plunge in Britain today, official data showed as the effects of No10’s ditching of mass testing continued to muddy the waters of the state of the epidemic.

Another 51,253 positive tests were logged by UK Health Security Agency bosses today, down 41 per cent on last week’s tally. It was the second lowest total in a month after dropping to 50,202 yesterday.

Experts say the daily counts are now irrelevant, however, because they rely entirely on people coming forward for testing and do not show true infection levels, which studies suggest have hit record highs. Tory MPs have called on ministers to ditch the constant updates.

In a more promising sign, hospitalisations fell two days in a row for the first time since Freedom Day at the end of February — suggesting pressure on the NHS may have also peaked.

Figures show 2,040 infected patients were admitted to hospital on Saturday, the latest date data is available for. It was 1.7 per cent down on the 2,075 recorded the week before.

The number counts patients who have tested positive and does not necessarily equate to patients who have been left severely ill from the disease. More than half of ‘Covid’ patients in hospital are primarily being treated for other reasons, like a broken leg. And the virus is not the underlying cause of death in up to a third of all fatalities. 

Critics say that the rise in so-called ‘incidental’ figures, driven by the sheer prevalence of the now-dominant BA.2, is skewing the Government’s daily coronavirus statistics. 

Meanwhile coronavirus deaths — a similarly skewed figure — increased slightly by 9.4 per cent in a week, to 233 today.

Covid infections in England are now the ‘highest we’ve ever seen’ 

Covid infection rates in England are now the ‘highest we’ve ever seen’, according to one of the country’s leading virus experts. 

Professor Paul Elliott, an Imperial College London epidemiologist, warned rates were ‘unprecedently high in over-75s, which is ‘a bit of a worry because that’s the most vulnerable group’.

His comments come on the back of Imperial’s Government-backed REACT-1 study, a massive surveillance project that routinely swabs around 100,000 people. 

Despite estimating that around 6.4 per cent of people were infected on March 31 — roughly one in 16, it spotted signs that prevalence was ‘plateauing’ in children and younger adults. 

NHS bosses have warned they are already running behind schedule on tackling the record backlog which built up during the pandemic due to the rising numbers of infected patients being admitted to hospitals and virus-related staff absences.

The UKHSA data also shows there were 42,392 new cases in England today, down 43 per cent on the 74,419 recorded last Wednesday, before free testing was ditched.

Cases were also down in Scotland — where free tests are continuing until April 18 — by 23.8 per cent from 9,610 to 7,315. In Wales, where free swabbing has been dropped, they were down 77.6 per cent to just 391 today.

Despite the promising signs, NHS bosses warned they are already running behind schedule on tackling the record backlog which built up during the pandemic due to the rising numbers of infected patients being admitted to hospitals and virus-related staff absences.

More than 2,000 virus patients were hospitalised in England on Sunday and more than 16,500 beds were taken up by infected people yesterday morning, the latest dates figures are available for. Both figures are nearly on par with the January peak. 

It comes on the same day that a 1.25 per cent national insurance hike kicks in for millions of Brits, which will raise £39billion over the next three years to bail out the NHS and social care. 

The health service is expected to increase its capacity by 30 per cent on pre-pandemic levels and carry out at least 9million more scans, tests and procedures. 

A new national insurance tax, which comes into effect from today, will see workers pay 1.25 per cent more to help with the recovery.

But Chris Hopson, head of NHS Providers, said virus hospitalisations and Covid-related staff absences ‘mean we’re not going as fast as we would like on backlog recovery’.

He told the Times hospitals ‘wanted to come out of winter and hit warp speed, meeting our target of 104 per cent of pre-Covid activity as quickly as possible’. But he said some areas are only hitting 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

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