Infections lowest since last autumn
COVID-19 infections across all parts of the UK have fallen to the lowest level since the autumn, new figures suggest. According to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics, around one in 480 people in private households in England had Covid in the week to April 10 – down from one in 340 the previous week. This is the lowest figure since the week to September 19 2020, when the estimate stood at one in 500.
Meanwhile in Wales, around one in 920 people was estimated to have had coronavirus in the week to April 10 – down from one in 800 in the week before and the lowest level since the week to September 10. In Northern Ireland, the estimate was around one in 710 people, a drop from one in 300 in the previous week and the lowest since estimates began for the nation in October.
The estimate for Scotland was around one in 500, falling from one in 410 and again the lowest since estimates began for the nation in October.
The drop in infection levels across the UK marks a contrast to rising case rates in other parts of the world.
It comes as Downing Street insisted that the Government’s red list of travel ban countries is “under constant review”, when asked why India did not feature on it. India has seen soaring Covid-19 rates, with more than 13.9 million confirmed cases and 172,000 deaths recorded. Downing Street said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s planned visit to India was still due to go ahead later this month, despite concerns over the discovery of UK cases of a coronavirus variant first detected in the South Asian nation.
Public Health England (PHE) said some 77 cases of the B.1.617 variant have been confirmed in the UK.
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said it included two “escape mutations” which “are causing people to be concerned”, but added it was not known for certain what this meant for the effect of a vaccine.
PHE has designated it as “variant under investigation” rather than a “variant of concern” and said there is currently no evidence to suggest it causes more severe disease or that vaccines are less likely to work against it.
Downing Street has also defended the use of rapid lateral flow tests despite reports that officials have raised concerns about their accuracy.
The Guardian reported that it had seen leaked emails which indicated senior officials were considering scaling back extensive asymptomatic testing due to the number of false positives.