HomeLifestyleHealth & FitnessUK's Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths all fall AGAIN

UK’s Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths all fall AGAIN

Britain’s Covid wave fell on all fronts today, official statistics showed — as a gold-standard surveillance study confirmed the outbreak is shrinking.

Government dashboard data revealed another 54,218 Covid cases were recorded over the last 24 hours, down a fifth on the tally from last Wednesday.

It marked the 15th day in a row that infections have dipped week-on-week, with the UK now recording about 50,000 cases every day similar to levels in early December as Omicron was taking off.

There were also 199 Covid deaths, which was a 27 per cent fall in a week or 77 fewer fatalities than seven days ago.

And latest hospital figures showed 1,096 Covid patients were admitted to wards on February 12, the smallest number of daily admissions for eight weeks. It was also down eight per cent in seven days.

It came as separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed England’s outbreak shrunk by 13 per cent last week, confirming the Omicron wave is receding.

Unlike the daily numbers which rely on people coming forward for tests, the ONS can estimate cases in those that would not normally get tested because it relies on 100,000 random swabs a week. 

They estimated 2.4million people had Covid on any day during the week to February 12 — equivalent to one in 20 people — down from 2.8million over the previous seven-day spell.

Cases dropped in every region except the South West, where the trend is ‘uncertain’, they said, and across every age group. 

The latest figures will further encourage Boris Johnson to push ahead with his plans to ‘live with’ the virus, which will see the final Covid curbs — including self-isolation — scrapped.

Under the plans, the Prime Minister is also thought to be considering ending free lateral flow tests next month and dropping contact tracing for contacts of positive cases.

UK's Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths all fall AGAIN

UK's Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths all fall AGAIN

UK's Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths all fall AGAIN

UK's Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths all fall AGAIN

The daily figures from the UK Health Security Agency showed there were 42,756 new cases in England, 7,449 in Scotland, 2,889 in Northern Ireland and 1,124 in Wales.

Latest testing figures show almost a fifth fewer swabs are being carried out a week, with 880,000 tests done on February 15. 

But the positivity rate — the proportion of swabs that detect the virus — is also trending downwards, suggesting that the fall in cases is genuine and not just down to fewer tests. 

Now Scotland will encourage over-5s to get Covid jabs 

All children aged five to 11 in Scotland will be offered two Covid vaccines, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed today.

The Scottish First Minister said she had accepted new recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).  

It follows an announcement by the Welsh Government last night that it will also roll out the jabs to primary school children.

There is still no word on whether England will follow suit but MailOnline understands a decision will be announced this afternoon.

Only half of children aged 12-15 have received a Covid jab in England and just a fifth have had two doses – raising questions about public demand for the move. 

The JCVI’s recommendation is thought to stress that it is a ‘non-urgent offer’ because Covid poses such a tiny risk to healthy children.

Two vaccines offer as little as 10 per cent protection against Omicron infection, and fewer than 40 children aged 5-14 have died after testing positive for Covid in Britain since the pandemic began. 

Ms Sturgeon said: ‘Although it has yet to be published officially… like colleagues in Wales we have received advice from the JCVI which recommends Covid vaccination for all children aged five to 11-years-old.

‘I can confirm ministers have considered this draft advice and are content to accept its recommendations.’ 

The ONS’ weekly report — which is currently published twice a week to help ministers keep tabs on the Omicron variant — showed Covid cases fell in England last week.

Wales followed the same pattern, where cases also dropped (down to 112,600).

But the outbreak grew in Scotland with 219,000 estimated to have been infected last week or one in 25 people, and in Northern Ireland with 146,000 cases or one in 13.

London had the highest Covid case rate in England (5.27 per cent), the ONS said.

It was followed by the South East and East of England (4.8 per cent).

It comes as healthy children aged five to 11 in England were today offered two Covid jabs on a ‘non-urgent basis’.

No10’s vaccine advisers said the jabs would protect only a ‘very small number of children from serious illness and hospitalisation’.

Officials stressed that the offer is not urgent because Covid poses such a tiny risk to healthy children. Its main purpose is to safeguard youngsters against future waves. 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has warned the jabs should not be prioritised over other childhood vaccinations in this age group. 

The move means roughly 5million more children are now eligible for the jabs, to be given 12 weeks apart. The Government aims to offer a first dose to all youngsters by April. 

Amid the falling cases England is preparing to shift to a ‘living with’ the virus strategy the same way it does with the flu.

Mr Johnson is expected to unveil the plan — currently being thrashed out with ministers — when Parliament returns from recess on Monday.

He has already announced that self-isolation curbs are set to be dropped a month earlier than planned, and there have been suggestions free mass testing could also go as soon as next month.

But today Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer railed against the move, telling the Guardian it would be ‘a mistake’. 

Sir Keir told the newspaper that his party will oppose the end of free testing but he is said to have stopped short of calling for self-isolation rules to continue. 

The devolved governments in Scotland and Wales have both warned against scrapping free testing.

But the Treasury believes the estimated £10billion a year cost of the testing operation is not sustainable and has been pushing for it to be scaled back.

In its autumn and winter plan, published in September 2021, the Government said: ‘Rapid asymptomatic testing is an important tool to help reduce the spread of the virus, while supporting people to manage their own risk and the risks to others.

‘The Government will therefore continue to provide the public with access to free lateral flow tests in the coming months.’

It added: ‘At a later stage, as the Government’s response to the virus changes, universal free provision of LFDs (lateral flow devices) will end, and individuals and businesses using the tests will bear the cost.

‘The Government will engage widely on the form of this model as it is developed, recognising that rapid testing could continue to have an important, ongoing role to play in future.’

A Government spokesman said no decisions had been made on ending free testing.

They said: ‘We’ve previously set out that we’ll keep the provision of free testing under review as the Government’s response to Covid-19 changes.

‘No decisions have been made on the provision of free testing. Everyone can continue to get free tests and we are continuing to encourage people to use rapid tests when they need them.

‘Testing continues to play an important role in helping people live their day-to-day lives, keep businesses running and keep young people in school.’ 

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