Covid-19 case rates for three of the four UK nations have dropped to their lowest level since early autumn 2020, suggesting lockdown restrictions across the country have succeeded in helping to drive down the spread of the virus.
oth Wales and Northern Ireland are currently recording rates last seen at the end of September, while the overall rate for England has fallen to its lowest level since the start of October.
London and south-east England are also recording regional rates that are the lowest since October.
The figures have been calculated by the PA news agency from the latest health agency data.
Case rates are one of a range of measures the Government has said it will use to inform its plans for a “road map” out of the current system of lockdowns, along with the number of hospital admissions and patients, estimates of virus transmission rate, the latest data on deaths and the effect of vaccine rollout.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to announce details of the road map on Monday.
Wales recorded 89.6 cases per 100,000 people in the week to February 12, the lowest seven-day rate since 85.4 on September 29.
In Northern Ireland the rate currently stands at 120.5, the lowest since 104.1 on September 29.
For England as a whole, the seven-day rate as of February 12 was 142.2 – the lowest since 134.5 on October 5.
Scotland’s rate did not rise as high as the other nations during the recent surge in cases, and currently stands at 104.1 – the lowest number since 102.3 on December 7.
The steep drop in rates suggests the various lockdowns in place across the UK have played a key role in reducing the number of new reported cases of coronavirus.
Separate figures published last week by the Office for National Statistics showed that the prevalence of coronavirus within the community population of the UK, based on estimates of the number of infections, is also starting to decrease.
Three regions of England are now recording case rates that are the lowest since before the start of winter.
Eastern England recorded 123.0 cases per 100,000 people in the week to February 12, the lowest seven-day rate for the region since November 30.
In south-east England the rate currently stands at 102.1, the lowest since October 24.
And in London the rate has dropped to 117.0 cases per 100,000, the lowest since October 18.
All other regions have seen their rates fall to levels last seen before Christmas.
The East Midlands saw 188.3 cases per 100,000 people in the week to February 12 – currently the highest regional rate in England, but the lowest for the East Midlands since December 11.
The rate for the West Midlands is 187.8, the lowest since December 12.
In north-west England the rate is 182.8, the lowest since December 19; in Yorkshire and the Humber the rate is 155.6, the lowest since December 13; and in north-east England the rate is 168.1, the lowest since December 12.
South-west England currently has the lowest regional rate in England: 95.9, the lowest for the region since December 12.
Rates of new cases of Covid-19 are a useful indicator of any change to the overall shape and trajectory of “waves” of coronavirus in the country.
A steep rise in the number of new recorded cases has typically been followed by an increase in hospitalisations and deaths – though this pattern may be different in the future, once the Covid-19 vaccine has been fully rolled out and the impact of the vaccine on the transmission of the virus is better known.