Professor Neil Ferguson also said that hospital admissions of coronavirus patients in the capital could be levelling off.
However, the Imperial College London epidemiologist, whose work played a key role in the first lockdown, warned that the pressure on hospitals — many of which are struggling to cope with a huge surge in coronavirus patients — would carry on for weeks.
“It’s much too early to say exactly when case numbers are going to start coming down but in some NHS regions in England and in Wales there is sign of plateauing, for instance London community testing (PCR pillar 2 testing), those case numbers are coming down,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“At the moment, it looks like in London in particular and a couple of other regions South East, East of England, hospital admissions may even have plateaued though it’s hard to tell that they are coming down.”
In London, Bromley saw the biggest drop in confirmed cases in the week to January 8, of 18.3 per cent, followed by Richmond on 18.1 per cent, Kingston 15.6 per cent, Havering 14.3 per cent, Sutton 13.8 per cent and Merton 11.8 per cent.
The figures are particularly volatile at the moment due to the Christmas and New Year breaks and are slightly worse in many areas of the capital compared with the week to January 7, when 14 boroughs were seeing falls.
The seven-day rate has risen from 1,007.2 to 1,047.2 new cases per 100,000 Londoners.
However, more areas are expected to see falls again tomorrow and the seven-day rate is below the peak so far of 1,116.5 in the week to January 4. The hopeful data on cases, though, came as the number of deaths within 28 days of people testing positive for the virus rose on Wednesday to 1,564 in the UK in the deadliest day so far, including 231 in London, taking the capital’s total to 10,353.
There were 7,606 Covid patients in London hospitals as of Tuesday, with 1,085 on ventilators. The number of coronavirus patients admitted on the 10th was 734, down from 977 on the 6th, but still 5,919 in a week.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The situation in London remains critical with rates of the virus extremely high. We’re seeing early signs of the increase in cases levelling off in some parts of London, but in other parts of the city as many as one in 20 people have the virus.”
Worryingly, the seven-day rate among Londoners aged 60 and over has risen to 914.7 new cases per 100,000 in the week to January 8, up from 911.6 on January 4, while among the younger age group it is down from 1,156.8 to 1,073.2.
Even if the second wave has peaked in the capital and other parts of the country, the number of cases may take longer than in the first wave to fall significantly given that the new variant of the virus spreads more easily.
Many hospitals in London are also struggling to cope with the surge in the number of Covid patients in recent weeks.
They are facing unprecedented pressure from the coronavirus epidemic, with the Nightingale hospital at the ExCel Centre in the Docklands having been reopened as admissions are expected to rise.
Health chiefs, Covid victims’ families and ministers are appealing to people to follow the rules to stop the NHS being overwhelmed and to prevent more fatalities.
The Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told ITV’s Peston programme: “The daily numbers jump around a bit but I think we are in a position now - when you look at the number of infections we’ve had over the past few weeks and how this is likely to continue, so I don’t think they’re going to drop very quickly - that I’m afraid we’re in a period of high death numbers that’s going to carry on for some weeks.
“It’s not going to come down quickly even if the measures that are in place now start to reduce the infection numbers.
“So we’re in for a pretty grim period, I’m afraid.”
But Sir Patrick said it did look as though things were "flattening" off in some areas.
“I think what we know now, which we didn’t know a few weeks ago, was would these sorts of restrictions be enough to bring this virus under control with the new variant? And the answer is yes, it looks like it is, and things are at least flattening off in some places, not everywhere.”
Pharmacies were today joining more than 1,000 other vaccination centres, including hospitals, GP hubs and community halls, in the race to give the Covid-19 jab to around 14 million people aged 70 and over, care home residents and workers, frontline health and social care staff, and individuals particularly vulnerable to the disease.
Britain is one of the leading countries in the proportion of people vaccinated so far, at just over 2.6 million people, however there are concerns that the supply of doses is holding back the jabs roll-out.
Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is pledging, though, to “imminently” be able to deliver two million doses a week of its vaccine developed with Oxford University.
With the country in its third lockdown, tens of thousands of businesses are under threat, as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Meanwhile, new guidance says some hospital patients who have previously tested positive for coronavirus can be discharged straight into care homes without a recent test as they “are not considered to pose an infection risk”.
Patients who have tested positive within 90 days, completed a 14-day isolation period and have no symptoms or exposure do not need to be retested ahead of discharge, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
Instead, they can be discharged into any care home without having to first isolate in a “designated setting” — sites set up for the safe discharge of Covid-positive patients. This is because these patients, described as “immunocompetent”, “are not considered to pose an infection risk”, the guidance says.
The full figures for London show that in Bromley there were 3073 cases in the week to January 8, down 690 (18.3%) with a rate of 924.7, Richmond 1074 cases, down 237 (18.1%) with a rate of 542.4, Kingston 1250 cases, down 231 (15.6%) with a rate of 704.2, Havering 2962 cases, down 496 (14.3%) with a rate of 1,141.2, Sutton 1986 cases, down 317 (13.8%) with a rate of 962.4, Merton 1908 cases, down 256 (11.8%) with a rate of 923.8, Tower Hamlets 3826 cases, down 234 (5.8%) with a rate of 1,178.2, Rebridge 4210 cases, down 214 (4.8%) with a rate of 1,379.3, Barnet 3943 cases, down 89 (2.2%) with a rate of 996, Hackney and City of London 2672 cases, down 31 (1.1%) with a rate of 918.7, and Enfield 4104 cases, down 15 (0.4%) with a rate of 1,229.5.
Bexley saw 3035 cases, up 27 (0.9%) with a rate of 1,222.4, Camden 1850 cases, up 42 (2.3%) with a rate of 685.1, Haringey 2892 cases, up 79 (2.8%) with a rate of 1,076.5, Westminster 1560 cases, up 51 (3.4%) with a rate of 597, Islington 1995 cases, up 70 (3.6%) with a rate of 822.8, Wandsworth 2663 cases, up 100 (3.9%) with a rate of 807.8, Harrow 2473 cases, up 92 (3.9%) with a rate of 984.6, Barking and Dagenham 3474 cases, up 142 (4.3%) with a rate of 1,631.7, Waltham Forest 3286 cases, up 136 (4.3%) with a rate of 1,186.4, Hammersmith and Fulham 1446 cases, up 74 (5.4%) with a rate of 781, Greenwich 3277 cases, up 192 (6.2%) with a rate of 1,138.1, and Hounslow 3175 cases, up 205 (6.9%) with a rate of 1,169.3.
In Croydon, there were 4383 cases, up 299 (7.3%) with a rate of 1,133.4, Lewisham 3314 cases, up 255 (8.3%) with a rate of 1,083.6, Newham 5233 cases, up 407 (8.4%) with a rate of 1,481.9, Kensington and Chelsea 1100 cases, up 111 (11.2%) with a rate of 704.5, Hillingdon 3313 cases, up 361 (12.2%) with a rate of 1,079.6, Brent 3721 cases, up 438 (13.3%) with a rate of 1,128.4, Lambeth 3305 cases, up 438 (15.3%) with a rate of 1,013.7, Southwark 3444 cases, up 496 (16.8%) with a rate of 1,080.2, and Ealing 3901 cases, up 762 (24.3%) with a rate of 1,141.3.