Covid cases plunge again as hopes grow that Omicron wave is easing

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The UK recorded 81,713 new cases of coronavirus and 287 deaths on Saturday as infections continue to fall.

On Friday, 99,652 cases were recorded and 270 deaths.

It was the first time the number of daily infections had dipped below 100,000 since December 21.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been a total of 176,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Earlier on Saturday Dr Chris Smith, a consultant virologist and lecturer based at Cambridge University, said current coronavirus data gives him “great cause for optimism”.

He told the BBC: “The number of people who are going into intensive care or are on mechanical ventilation beds is actually dropping. It has remained flat.

“Now that could be because Omicron hasn’t had a chance to bite yet and there will be an uptick later.

“On the other hand, it may be that we are following the trajectory of South Africa, which we seem to be so far, which is they saw a much fewer translation of hospital cases into intensive care beds cases. So let’s hope that carries on.

“This gives me great cause for optimism because I think we are getting to a point now where thanks to vaccination, where 96% of the country we’re told now have antibodies against the coronavirus, thanks to vaccinations thanks to infection rate reinforcing our immunity we are getting to a point where the population have sufficient immunity that we can fend off the infection when we get it much better than we could previously.”

However, the UK Health Security Agency believes England’s R numbernow stands between 1.1 and 1.5 - meaning that every 10 people infected with coronavirus will on average pass the disease to between 11 and 15 other people.

As it remains above 1, it means the virus is still growing rather than shrinking overall.

In the week ending 6 January - the latest figures available - the ONS estimated that 3,735,000 people had COVID-19, or around one in 15 people.

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