UK Covid cases at lowest level since start of OCTOBER as 8,489 test positive and another 548 die

UK Covid cases today rose by 8,489 – the lowest the figure has been since the start of October.

Another 548 deaths were confirmed, meaning 121,305 have now died from the bug in Britain since the start of the pandemic.

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The number of new infections recorded today is smaller than it was last Tuesday (10,625).

It is also the lowest daily rise the nation has seen since October 2, when 6,968 new cases were confirmed.

Today's rise in deaths (548) is lower than it was this time last week (799).

It is bigger than it was yesterday (178) although this is likely to be due to a lag in reporting over the weekend.

A total of 4,134,639 have now tested positive for Covid in the UK since the start of the outbreak.

It comes as…

  • Scotland's stay at home order to end on April 5 and pubs should be open by end of that month
  • Rishi Sunak is set to extend furlough until at least July as businesses remain shut
  • Boris sets England on snail-paced return to freedom with restrictions not fully lifted until at least June 21
  • Foreign holidays banned until May 17 at the earliest but ministers won’t decide until April if travel allowed
  • Summer of freedom could be brought to crashing end by FOURTH Covid wave, scientists warn

It comes after Scotland unveiled its roadmap out of lockdown this afternoon, with the country's stay at home order to end on April 5.

Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland's limit on outdoor mixing between households will increase to four people from a maximum of two households from March 15.

It is then the First Minister's "hope" that from April 5, stay at home restrictions will be lifted – with the country to return to a tiered lockdown system.

Boris Johnson scrapped the tiers system in England yesterday, insisting the nation would instead take a four-stage approach out of the shutdown.

Hopeful Brits rushed to book tables at pubs and restaurants today – ready for when Boris' blueprint says they will reopen in April.

Others took to the internet to share their excitement, insisting June 21 – when all measures could at last be lifted – should be made a Bank Holiday.

Meanwhile scientists have dished a bitter blow, insisting the fun is unlikely to last long because cases could re-surge. 

Modelling shows that even with the slow unlocking planned, there will be an unavoidable third wave of Covid which could see several thousands die.

This could drag on for months, potentially causing a fourth wave in the autumn when schools and universities return.

Martin Hibberd, a professor of emerging infectious disease, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Looking at the modelling, I have a worry that September this year will be very similar to September last year.”

Speaking to The Sun, he added: "I see the main risk to the long-term lifting of restrictions is the development of new variants of the virus that are able to evade the immune response generated to existing variants and the vaccines.

"As the population immune immunity rises, mostly due to the large-scale successful vaccination, these escape variants will have a selective advantage [over the current dominant variants] and could become the most common type of infection."

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