Wednesday, 3 Mar 2021

Fears any lockdown lifting could be delayed as fall in Covid cases slowing down

A stalling in the fall of Covid rates is leading to fresh fears that an easing of lockdown restrictions could be delayed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to reveal the country's recovery roadmap on Monday.

He has promised no10 will be guided by "data and not dates" as he looks to get the country back on its feet.

The PM is to spend the weekend finalising his plan for easing coronavirus measures in England whilst opening up the economy.

But there is a growing concern that a fall in Covid rates have stalled for first time in six weeks.

Prof Tim Spector, who leads the Zoe Covid symptom study app at King's College London, has been speaking this afternoon.

He said: "Although daily new cases have fallen steadily for six consecutive weeks in the UK, in the last few days the rate of decrease has plateaued.

"This is mainly true in places like Scotland, Wales and the Midlands compared to London and the East.

"It’s unclear why this is happening, although people relaxing their guard after vaccination or altering behaviour in the cold weather are possible.

"But it’s encouraging that Covid-related hospital admissions are still falling and much lower than at the peak.

"With cases still falling in the at-risk age groups and the vaccination roll out continuing there is still reason to be hopeful – but we clearly can’t be complacent."

Deaths had been slumping since the start of 2021, with a further 533 people in the UK having died within 28 days of testing positive losing their lives today.

However, the infection rate has hovered at around 12,000 all week.

The Prime Minister was expecting lower figures – and was reported that significant restrictions could remain in place until cases drop into the hundreds.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said earlier this week: "I think there is a pretty clear view that number needs to come down.

"Members of Sage last week were saying that daily cases numbers were at 9,500, some members of Sage are suggesting it needs to come down to 1,000.

"We need to follow the data and it's the government's job to set out in the roadmap what that's going to be."

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