COVID: UK's alert level downgraded from level 3 to 2

·2-min read

The UK's COVID alert level has been downgraded from three to two - the first time it has been that low.

Level five is the highest - a stage reached on 4 January 2021.

The latest change was recommended by the UK's four chief medical officers, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

A level two alert means that "COVID-19 is in general circulation, but direct healthcare pressures and transmission are declining or stable".

Coronavirus deaths registered in England and Wales have fallen for the third week in a row, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The chief medical officers said while hospitals and the "wider health systems remain extremely busy overall", the "summer BA 4 and BA 5 (both Omicron variants) wave is subsiding, and direct COVID severe illness is now a much smaller proportion of this".

Read more: What is the UK's COVID alert level and what does it mean?

They added: "Severe COVID cases, direct COVID healthcare pressures, direct COVID deaths and ONS community positivity estimates have decreased.

"COVID remains present in the community, and we may see an increase in cases with BA 4.6 and BA 2.75 circulating, but do not expect this to lead to an immediate increase in hospital pressures.

"This will continue to be kept under review."

More COVID surges 'likely'

In their statement, the chief medical officers of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland added that further COVID surges are still "likely" and people should be "prepared by getting a vaccination when it is offered".

There are several factors taken into account when the level falls from three to two.

The UK Health Security Agency lays out the following criteria on the government website.

• Is the national R number reliably estimated to be below one?
• Are cases and transmission falling?
• Are direct COVID-19 healthcare pressures falling?
• Is current direct COVID-19 absolute healthcare pressure sufficiently low to support de-escalation to level two?

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Some 551 deaths registered in the seven days to 19 August mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate, the ONS said, down 7% on the previous week.

It is the lowest number of deaths since the week to 8 July.

Death registrations rose during much of June and July because of a wave of infections caused by BA 4 and BA 5.

But the figures peaked at 810 deaths in the week to 29 July, since when they have been steadily falling.