American Daily Digest

England records another 185 Covid hospital deaths in preliminary figures 

UK records another 6,040 new Covid cases – down 19% on last week – with 158 deaths, taking total to 124,419

  • Cases total in the UK has dropped by 19 per cent on last week’s 7,434 figure as cases continue to fall 
  • A further 158 new daily deaths were recorded in the UK on Saturday, a drop of 45 per cent on last week
  • It takes the total number of deaths due to coronavirus in the UK to 124,419 as the vaccine roll out continues
  • Some 84,276 people died in hospitals in England since last March, preliminary data showed earlier today

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The UK has recorded another 6,040 new coronavirus cases – with 158 new daily deaths, the Government has revealed. 

The number of cases today fell 19 per cent on last week’s 7,434 positive coronavirus tests, while the deaths total has now reached 124,419. 

Deaths have fallen 45 per cent on last week’s figures – when 290 were recorded – acting as further proof of Britain’s successful vaccine roll-out. 

It comes as Portugal and the Spanish islands have followed Cyprus in welcoming British holidaymakers from the middle of May, as long as they have a negative test.

And as the rate of infection continued to slow in the UK, Britons flocked to the nation’s parks for walks, with crowds filling Greenwich Park in London this afternoon. 

Government data up to March 5 shows that of the 22,887,118 jabs given in the UK so far, 21,796,278 were first doses – a rise of 437,463 on the previous day – and 1,090,840 were second doses, an increase of 56,772.

Earlier today NHS England revealed 185 more people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England. It means a total of 84,276 people have died in hospitals in England since the start of the pandemic.

The figures, released ahead of the official statistics this afternoon, showed those who died were between 42 and 96, and all but six had known underlying health conditions.  

In other coronavirus news today:

  • Portugal and the Spanish islands have followed Cyprus in welcoming British holidaymakers from the middle of May, with Spain saying it hopes to allow British tourists to visit the Canary and Balearic Islands;
  • Kate Middleton has hailed the ‘amazing work’ of key workers and frontline NHS staff throughout the coronavirus crises as the Royal Family celebrated Commonwealth Day; 
  • Head of the Covid-19 Genomics UK scientific body Professor Sharon Peacock said tweaking vaccines will allow Britain to ‘stay ahead’ of Covid-19 as she said she was ‘optimistic’ about the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown;
  • More than 20 prisoners died in a fortnight after contracting coronavirus, as provisional data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) showed the deaths of 24 inmates for the two-week period to March 1 were Covid-related; 
  • Members of the Public and Commercial Services union at Liverpool Law Courts and Snaresbrook Crown Court in London backed industrial action over coronavirus safety concerns.

The figures, shared by Public Health England, were also down from Thursday, when 6,543 Covid cases were recorded. There have been more than 4million cases recorded in the UK since the pandemic began. 

Meanwhile, Department of Health officials yesterday revealed there had been 236 more Covid fatalities – down by a third week-on-week, with the Health Secretary boasting the decline was becoming ‘faster and faster’. 

Mr Hancock yesterday claimed the figures offered proof that the once ‘unbreakable’ link between cases inevitably turning into deaths was ‘now breaking’.

He told a Downing Street press conference: ‘The vaccine is protecting the NHS, saving lives right across the country. The country’s plan is working.’ 

Two-fifths of adults have now been jabbed and one million have had both doses.

His comments came after an array of official data revealed Covid cases are falling rapidly, fuelling calls for No10 to relax lockdown measures sooner. 

Under current plans heavily criticised by anti-lockdown Tory MPs, England will have some lockdown restrictions in place until at least June 21.

Recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show England’s outbreak shrank by a third in the week to February 26, with 248,000 people infected – the equivalent of one in every 220 people.

People headed out for a walk in Greenwich Park, South East London today,  as cold weather hit the capital

People headed out for a walk in Greenwich Park, South East London today,  as cold weather hit the capital

People headed out for a walk in Greenwich Park, South East London today,  as cold weather hit the capital

Under current plans heavily criticised by anti-lockdown Tory MPs, England will have some lockdown restrictions in place until at least June 21. Pictured, Boris Johnson

Under current plans heavily criticised by anti-lockdown Tory MPs, England will have some lockdown restrictions in place until at least June 21. Pictured, Boris Johnson

Under current plans heavily criticised by anti-lockdown Tory MPs, England will have some lockdown restrictions in place until at least June 21. Pictured, Boris Johnson

Britain’s Covid infection figures yesterday dropped by 30 per cent week-on-week to 5,947 in the latest sign the UK is finally bringing the virus under control.  

Matt Hancock yesterday boasted about more evidence showing the vaccines are helping to drive down hospital admissions and deaths, with both measures dropping quicker than cases

Matt Hancock yesterday boasted about more evidence showing the vaccines are helping to drive down hospital admissions and deaths, with both measures dropping quicker than cases

Matt Hancock yesterday boasted about more evidence showing the vaccines are helping to drive down hospital admissions and deaths, with both measures dropping quicker than cases

And a symptom-tracking study revealed the number of people getting infected each day has started to drop again after levelling off in February. 

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist behind the research, revealed he hoped lockdown could be eased ‘earlier’.

Even Number 10’s normally-cautious advisers are optimistic about Britain’s prospects, with SAGE member Professor Andrew Hayward admitting he believed the country had already ‘been through the worst’ of the pandemic.

However, the Government’s advisory panel yesterday claimed that the R rate has crept up for the first time since January. 

Modellers predicted the rate was between 0.7 and 0.9 but remained below one, meaning the outbreak is still shrinking. Last week it was estimated to be as low as 0.6.

The Office for National Statistics estimated that 248,000 people across England are infected with the coronavirus, down from 370,000 in its estimate last Friday

The Office for National Statistics estimated that 248,000 people across England are infected with the coronavirus, down from 370,000 in its estimate last Friday

The Office for National Statistics estimated that 248,000 people across England are infected with the coronavirus, down from 370,000 in its estimate last Friday

The number of people developing Covid symptoms each day, as estimated by the Covid Symptom Study, plateaued in February but has started to drop again in March

The number of people developing Covid symptoms each day, as estimated by the Covid Symptom Study, plateaued in February but has started to drop again in March

The number of people developing Covid symptoms each day, as estimated by the Covid Symptom Study, plateaued in February but has started to drop again in March

Gavin Williamson hints school summer holidays could be shortened PERMANENTLY

Gavin Williamson today hinted that summer holidays could be shortened permanently as part of a move to a five-term year.

The Education Secretary said the government is looking at doing things in a ‘different way’ as it scrambles to help children catch up after the coronavirus lockdowns.

However, headteachers cautioned against a ‘knee jerk’ introduction of a five-term system, which could potentially mean children having just four weeks off in the summer rather than around six.

The suggestion of a much deeper overhaul comes days before pupils are finally due to return to classrooms in England on Monday.

There have been warnings that it could take a decade to heal the damage done to the prospects of youngsters – with the most vulnerable suffering the worst.

Asked in an interview with the i newspaper whether England’s current six-week summer holiday was too long, Mr Williamson said: ‘I think we should never be nervous about looking at new routes and different ways of doing things.’

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But one SAGE epidemiologist has insisted the era of caring about the R rate was ‘coming to an end’ because the figure is no longer at the heart of No10’s Covid strategy. 

Professor John Edmunds, from the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said a rise in cases ‘may be tolerated as long as it doesn’t put undue pressure on hospital services’.

Almost 21.4million vulnerable Britons have already been vaccinated, with the mammoth NHS operation continuing to run smoothly. 

Any hiccups in the inoculation drive – which will save countless lives – could threaten lockdown-easing plans.  

SAGE experts predicted the R rate remained below one in every region of England except Yorkshire and the Humber where it was predicted to be between 0.7 and 1, suggesting cases may no longer be falling there. 

Other studies have also indicated the Covid outbreak may no longer be shrinking in the region. 

But Department of Health data still shows infections are dropping there week-on-week. 

The R rate was lowest in London, the East of England, the South East and the South West (0.6 to 0.8). In the North West and the Midlands it was between 0.7 and 0.9, they added.  

Professor Spector said: ‘After reporting a flattening last week, possibly related to the cold snap, and with worries of new variants, we are pleased to see numbers falling again. 

‘It’s even more encouraging when we look at the bigger picture. Cases in hospital and deaths continue to fall, and vaccinations rise, putting us in a good position. 

‘However, we still need to keep numbers low and avoid further waves of infections.

‘Our app shows people are still getting infected within two weeks after vaccination when they have zero protection. 

‘With schools opening, we still need to be sensible to keep the good news flowing as we slowly return to normal life and hopefully ease lockdown earlier.’

Public Health England data show that coronavirus positive test rates fell in all but two areas of the country in the week ending February 28 – Hull in Yorkshire and Wokingham in Berkshire (shown in yellow)

Public Health England data show that coronavirus positive test rates fell in all but two areas of the country in the week ending February 28 – Hull in Yorkshire and Wokingham in Berkshire (shown in yellow)

Public Health England data show that coronavirus positive test rates fell in all but two areas of the country in the week ending February 28 – Hull in Yorkshire and Wokingham in Berkshire (shown in yellow)

It comes as Rita Marques, Portugal’s tourism minister, hoped the country would soon allow restriction-free travel for those who have been vaccinated or test negative.

Travel experts believe that Greece and Turkey will also announce that they want Britons to return. However, a spokesman for the French government said no decision had been made. 

Cyprus previously announced it would accept British tourists from May 1 if they have had both vaccine shots. 

Deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios said these individuals can ‘visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine’. However, the UK Government said that the roadmap states that international travel will not be allowed before May 17.

It comes after Cyprus announced it would accept British tourists from May 1 if they have had both vaccine shots. Akamas Peninsula National Park is seen above in Cyprus

It comes after Cyprus announced it would accept British tourists from May 1 if they have had both vaccine shots. Akamas Peninsula National Park is seen above in Cyprus

It comes after Cyprus announced it would accept British tourists from May 1 if they have had both vaccine shots. Akamas Peninsula National Park is seen above in Cyprus

Portugal is currently on the UK’s red list, with arrivals banned from entry, unless they are UK residents or Irish nationals who must quarantine in a hotel. Travel industry expert Paul Charles, of the PC Agency, said that as more ‘countries unveil their opening plans’, bookings will increase as confidence returns.

And airlines are developing a Travel Pass app, which can include a traveller’s vaccine or Covid-19 test result status, through industry body IATA.

Last night government sources insisted that the roadmap dates would not be brought forward and one said: ‘The holiday debate is yet to be had but expectations need to be reined in.’

What are the rules for entering Britain?

  • You cannot enter the UK if you’ve been in or through a country on the banned travel list (known as the ‘red list’) in the last 10 days, unless you’re British, Irish or you have the right to live in the UK
  • You must either quarantine where you’re staying or in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days
  • What you need to do depends on where you travel in the 10 days before you arrive – if you travel in or through a country on the banned travel list within 10 days, you must stay managed quarantine hotel; if not, you can quarantine at home
  • You need to provide your journey and contact details in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. You must do this by completing the online passenger locator form
  • You’ll need to show proof that you’ve completed the form when you arrive at the UK border as well as proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken three days before departure 
  • You could be fined £500 when you arrive at the border if you cannot provide proof that you have had a negative coronavirus test
  • You do not need a test if you’re travelling within the UK, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey; from Ireland; from Ascension, Falkland Islands or St Helena; and children under 11 do not need a test 
  • After arriving at a quarantine hotel you will be tested on days two and eight of your stay using a PCR test self-administered in your room
  • In Scotland, arrivals from all international destinations have to quarantine, even if they are not on the red list. 
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