- Scientists at King’s College London estimate that 65,059 people had been infected in the UK on any given day last week.
- This was a 10% drop from an estimated 72,546 the previous week, and marked the third consecutive week of decline
- Professor Tim Spector says figures show people can be ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Christmas
Britain’s Covid cases fell by a tenth last week, according to the country’s largest symptom-tracking study, which has raised new hopes restrictions will not be needed before Christmas.
Scientists at King’s College London estimate that 65,059 people were falling ill with the virus on any day of the week until 13 November, up from 72,546 previously.
It marked the third week in a row that cases declined, and the lowest number of weekly infections since late September, before the back-to-school wave really kicked off.
The app suggested that cases dipped among the more than 75 and closed for the more than 18. But after returning to school after a half-holiday, the infection started increasing again in the children.
Eminent scientist Professor Tim Spector, who led the study, said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ that Christmas this year would be business as usual.
It was a softening of his tone from last month, when he joined a group of experts who called on ministers to switch to Plan B – with hated face masks, social distancing and work-from-home guidance.
Fears of another Christmas lockdown spread this week when Boris Johnson admitted the drastic action at a Downing Street press conference was not a complete shutdown. But the prime minister also said there was still nothing to suggest that England needed to extend its COVID restrictions.
Britain’s daily Covid infections fell week-on-week for the first time in seven days, and virus deaths and hospitalizations also fell.
Scientists at King’s College London estimated that 65,059 people were falling ill with the virus on any day of the week by 13 November, up from 72,546 previously. It was down 10% for the third week in a row
The symptom study – also run by health data science company ZOE – relies on daily reports from more than 750,000 Britons to see if they are feeling unwell and if they test positive for Covid.
It is based on self-reporting and the dosage does not ask participants to provide proof of their symptoms. The latest estimates used 40,000 tests for the virus from the fortnight to November 13.
Professor Spector made an optimistic note today, saying he thought Christmas would go ahead without any further restrictions.
Britain’s Covid cases fall for the first time in a week
Britain’s COVID crisis collapsed on all fronts yesterday, with official figures showing a decline in cases for the first time in a week.
Health department officials recorded 38,263 new infections in the last 24 hours, down 2.7 per cent from the 39,329 reported last Wednesday.
It was the first time in the past seven days that UK cases fell week-on-week, after English children returned to school at the start of the month.
The data also showed that 201 people died of the virus, down 6.1 per cent from the 214 recorded last week. This was the third consecutive day that the death toll has come down.
And the number of people hospitalized with Covid fell 6.7 percent to 778 last Friday, the latest date national data available.
The positive picture comes as Ireland’s chief medical officer claimed yesterday that scrapping Christmas plans in the country was a ‘responsible decision’.
Ireland has become the latest European country to reimpose COVID restrictions, forcing all hospitality businesses, including nightclubs and pubs, to close at midnight tomorrow.
Meanwhile, an Israeli study revealed today that immunity to COVID decreases within six months of a second Pfizer vaccine, no matter how old you are.
NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard said yesterday that the health service is already planning an annual COVID booster vaccine campaign in the UK.
He added: ‘What this means for Christmas, I am cautiously optimistic for the rest of the year.
‘It is becoming clear that children and school holidays play a significant role in the waves of infection.
‘I think it’s safe to say that we can expect to see another increase in the New Year after the holidays.’
But he still asked all Britons to be fully vaccinated against the virus, as well as to make sure they have their booster dose.
And he urged everyone to start using face masks in crowded places like public transport.
This was a softening of his tone barely three weeks ago when he warned ministers to consider Plan B.
He said at the time: ‘ZOE data shows the UK could hit 100,000 new cases sooner than expected and there is no sign of a Plan B or Plan C.
‘With the UK government delaying any decision on when to fill hospitals, it is time to take matters into their own hands to address the worsening situation. Public action has worked in previous waves to reduce rates before the lockdown.
Mr Johnson said earlier this week that it was still not possible to reimpose some COVID restrictions.
He said at a Downing Street press conference: ‘Obviously we can’t rule out anything and the most important thing people can do to prevent further NPIs is non-pharmaceutical interventions, which are further restrictions. – Get boosters.’
But he said there is still nothing in the data to suggest further restrictions are needed.
Scientists fear that if a newer variant emerges that is more transmissible and able to dodge vaccine-triggered immunity, COVID measures may be needed.
Kent’s ‘alpha’ version last winter triggered a spike in Covid cases, leading to the postponement of plans for Christmas Day and another lockdown.
But before that the vast majority of the country had been vaccinated against the disease.
Ministers gave booster shots to the people…