ENGLAND may have passed the peak of coronavirus infections before the third national lockdown was implemented earlier this month, official data has revealed.
Data from the Department of Health shows that cases have started to drop off in some regions, including Kent – an area which had struggled to control cases after a new variant of the virus was discovered.
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Days ago government scientists said cases had been dropping in London and other areas of the South.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference Professor Chris Whitty said there were some signs that "cases are levelling off".
But, while data shows cases have dropped slightly, it will take weeks for the burden to be lessened on the NHS, with many hospitals struggling with capacity issues due to the amount of Covid patients being admitted.
Last week London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in the capital as hospitals struggled capacity constraints.
Government experts have previously warned that lockdowns have to be in place for a number of weeks in order for a drop in cases to be seen in data sets.
Data now shows that cases had started to dip slightly across England at the start of the third lockdown.
It comes as:
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However it takes weeks for measures such as lockdowns to take effect and the full impact of this lockdown has not yet been seen.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning said that it would soon be clear as to whether or not measures in England have resulted in a drop in infections.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain he said: "I am looking to see the case rate just starting to level off.
"I hope that is what we start to see over the next few days."The few days ahead of us is the critical period to know whether this national lockdown is working."
Also speaking on BBC Breakfast he said that what happens next would be down to everyone and added that people shouldn't "take the mickey".
"Together we can make this the peak if enough people follow the rules, which are incredibly clear."
Pressed again on if this was the peak, he said: "Well we don't know, we published the data every day. I hope that it is."
But one NHS chief yesterday warned that we wouldn't reach the peak until February.
Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, told MPs today that pressure and demand on hospitals could surge next month as the new variant continues to take hold.
Looking at the figures across England and 45,533 people were reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus yesterday.
That is a 25 per cent fall on this time last week and is the third day in a row that infections have dropped.
Despite this – the death toll had its second deadliest day yesterday – jumping by 1,243.
The total number of people who have died from the disease now stands at 83,203 as a mutant strain continues to rampage across the country.
The total number of infections is now 3,164,051 after 45,533 more tested positive.
This is lower than yesterday when 46,169 more cases were reported and this is the lowest figure since December 29.
In the East of England cases also seem to have dropped off.
On January 4 they sat at 856 per 100,000 and by January 7 had dropped to 741.
Looking specifically at areas that have seen high cases numbers and in Kent, cases had still been climbing even with Tier 4 restrictions.
Lockdown then ensued after ministers said it wasn't enough to contain cases of the new strain.
Before Christmas cases had dropped in all 13 local authorities in the area, but spiked once more at the beginning of January.
Data shows that on January 4, Kent his 869 infections per 100,000 people, this dipped two days later to 742.1 cases per 100,000.
At one point Kent had been one of the most infected parts of the country.
Barking & Dagenham and Newham – both in East London are currently the most infected.
In London infection rates have also been seen to have dropped off falling from 1,116 cases per 100,000 to 1,005 cases between January 4 and 7.
It was also reported this week that hospital admissions in London and the South East had fallen this week for the first time since before the Christmas break.
On January 10 the rolling seven day admission for hospitals in London was 5,919, a fall of 131 on the previous day.
The last time London experienced a drop was December 2.
However hospital admissions are still rising in London and as of January 12 there were 7,606 Covid patients – an increase of 12 per cent on the week before.
Both London and Kent had been in Tier 4 before the third national lockdown and data shows that areas with lighter restrictions had seen a surge in cases.
Liverpool is one area that had also previously been a hotspot but had managed to get cases under control after a mass-testing programme was implemented in the city.
Cases are still rising in the city but have seemingly slowed during lockdown.
Data for the seven days to January 8 shows that Liverpool has had one of the biggest week of week increases in the whole country.
Cases in the city have gone from 493.5 per 100,000 to 1,085.9 per 100,000 in just one week.
In the North West as a whole infections rose between January 4 and 7, going from 582 per 100,000 to 607.
Of the 315 local areas in England, 225 (71 per cent) have seen a rise in case rates, 89 (28 per cent) have seen a fall and one is unchanged.
Brits have been told to "act as though they have Covid" in a bid to bring infection rates down.
This week ministers are stepping up enforcement, with Met Chief Cressida Dick saying it's not acceptable for people not to be following the rules anymore.
This morning she said police will be quicker to fine people for breaking lockdown laws.
She revealed the Met had dished out 300 fines in the last 24 hours alone as the message was ramped up.
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