“It is all over,” a senior minister proclaimed on the front page of Wednesday’s Daily Mail.
The unnamed minister told the paper that coronavirus is now “dropping into the background” after daily cases had fallen for seven successive days up to Tuesday.
The exuberance may have been curtailed on Wednesday. The government announced daily reported infections had increased for the first time in a week, by 4,223 to 27,734.
And while UK-wide patterns remain promising – week-on-week infections had fallen by 120,412, or 36%, as of Wednesday – case rates are still high in a number of areas.
In the seven days up to Friday, the latest date for which localised figures are available, the 10 council areas with the highest case rates were:
Redcar and Cleveland: 963.9 infections per 100,000 people
North East Lincolnshire: 725.1
South Tyneside: 700.1
Watch: Boris Johnson (speaking on Tuesday) warns against 'premature' COVID conclusions
Boris Johnson had urged caution earlier on Wednesday, telling LBC: “We’ve seen some encouraging recent data, there’s no question about that. But it is far, far too early to draw any general conclusions.”
Health secretary Sajid Javid, who has previously taken a bullish stance when discussing COVID, reflected Johnson's sentiment as he warned “no one really knows” what will happen next with the numbers. It follows the end of England's lockdown last week.
Javid said: "We’ve already seen with the Delta variant, a new variant that emerged over the last year, that’s more infectious than the previous one, that things can change.
“And so I think it’s important to remain cautious, not get too optimistic.”
Mike Tildesley, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), which advises the government, has said it is not yet clear whether the third wave was turning around.
Dr Tildesley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, said the recent fall in infections could be attributable to people being less willing to “step up” and get tested ahead of their summer holidays.
He added that testing among school pupils in England will have reduced since the end of term last week.
Watch: How the world could be better after COVID