Britain’s daily coronavirus cases and deaths have fallen once again, after another 6,391 infections and 343 fatalities were today added to the official tally.
Department of Health data showed cases dropped by a quarter week-on-week while deaths plunged by 37 per cent, compared to last Tuesday.
It comes after one of the country’s most prominent analysts claimed the death rate from all causes – including the virus – could fall to below normal levels by Easter.
Sir David Spiegelhalter made the comments after separate official figures showed Covid fatalities had dipped by more than a quarter and dropped for the third week in a row.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recorded 4,079 fatalities linked to the virus in England and Wales over the seven days to February 19, marking a 28 per cent drop from the previous week. This was also less than half the number of victims recorded during the darkest weeks of January.
Every region in England also registered a dip in the number of people succumbing to the infection compared to the previous week, with the North East and South West seeing the fewest fatalities.
And deaths linked to the virus in care home residents fell below 1,000 for the first time this year, with just 969 in the most recent seven days.
But, despite the promising statistics, fatalities linked to Covid still accounted for almost a third of all fatalities and had not dipped below the levels at the start of January, when fatalities first spiralled out of control. And deaths from all causes remained above the five-year average by around 20 per cent.
ONS death figures lag behind the daily tallies, which began falling at the end of January. Statisticians analyse the death certificates to identify exactly how many Covid was to blame for. There is a delay of about three weeks between someone getting infected with the virus and succumbing to the disease, meaning it takes time for a dip in cases to show up in death figures.
Covid deaths fell for the third week in a row this week, after they dropped by 28 per cent when 4,079 were registered by the Office for National Statistics. This was less than half the peak in the darkest days of January
The number of deaths linked to the virus also fell in all regions of England and Wales, but deaths from all causes remained above the five-year average, which is the number of people expected to die at this time of year
Deaths linked to the virus in care home residents also fell below 1,000 for the first time this year, after 969 were recorded
The North East had the lowest number of fatalities from the virus (165), followed by the South West (268) and Yorkshire and the Humber (320). But deaths from all causes remained above the five-year average in all regions
MORE THAN EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE IN ENGLAND LIVE IN AREAS WITH FEWER THAN THREE COVID CASES
More than eight million people in England live in areas where coronavirus may have disappeared, official figures revealed today.
Department of Health data showed 1,065 out of 6,792 districts — 15 per cent — recorded ‘fewer than three cases’ in the week to February 24, and may even have had none at all. Numbers are suppressed when they fall this low because health chiefs fear infected residents could be identified and shamed.
The vast majority of Cornwall and Devon recorded fewer than three coronavirus cases. But areas with tiny, or non-existent, outbreaks were scattered across the country, including in parts of London.
The data was recorded by Middle-layer Super Output Areas (MSOAs).
These are roughly the same as postcode areas, although some have amalgamated several of them. Each MSOA is home to around 8,000 people, on average.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) population estimates suggest there were 8.05million people living in the 1,065 districts with fewer than three cases during the week ending February 24.
Covid deaths accounted for 30 per cent of all fatalities recorded (13,809) in the most recent week. This was a dip from the previous week, and at the same levels as the week ending December 25 when fatalities began to spiral out of control.
Covid deaths registered in England fell in all regions, but stayed above the five-year average.
The North East had the fewest fatalities from the virus (165), followed by the South West (268) and Yorkshire and the Humber (320).
The virus failed to spread rapidly through these areas before lockdown restrictions were imposed at the start of the year, which may have led to a lower death toll.
The highest number of deaths due to the virus was in the South East (636), but this was 34 per cent below the number recorded the week before (974).
The East of England had the second highest toll (566) and the North West had the third highest (563).
It can take at least two weeks for someone who has caught the virus to develop symptoms serious enough to become hospitalised, and then another week or two to die from the disease.
Deaths from all-causes remained above the five-year average in all regions, however, showing that the virus was still having a impact.
It was furthest above the levels in the West Midlands (34 per cent or 390 excess deaths), followed by the East of England (26.6 per cent or 332 excess deaths) and the East Midlands (26.3 per cent or 259 excess deaths).
In Wales there were 179 Covid deaths recorded, which was a 17 per cent drop from the previous week when there were 216. But fatalities overall remained nine per cent above the five year average (65 extra deaths).
Deaths in care home residents were measured across all settings – including hospitals and the homes themselves.
Of the excess deaths registered, the ONS said the largest proportion were in private homes (1,148 or 43.1 per cent above average) followed by hospitals (1,012 or 18.3 per cent above average).
It comes as Department of Health figures reveal the second wave continues to retreat across the country, with daily cases figures more than halving yesterday compared to the same time last week.
There is a lag of at least two weeks between cases and deaths figures, because of the time taken for someone who has caught the virus to succumb to the disease.
The majority of deaths linked to the virus have been in those more than 75 years old. The vaccine rollout has seen these groups inoculated first to protect them from the disease
The above shows Covid deaths as a proportion of all deaths. They dropped to 30 per cent of the total this week, but this was as high as in late December as fatalities first began to spiral out of control
The majority of deaths recorded in the most recent week were in hospitals, followed by care homes and private homes
The number of deaths involving Covid was 18 per cent above those involving influenza and pneumonia in the most recent week, ONS data showed