The UK’s coronavirus hospital death toll has risen by 513 – the lowest increase on a Saturday for six weeks.
England reported 436 new fatalities, Scotland had 45, Wales recorded 22, and Northern Ireland had 10 to bring Britain’s hospital total to 92,390.
It is the lowest increase on a Saturday since 479 deaths were reported on January 2, and it is a decline of 45 per cent compared with the most deaths on a Saturday (926 on January 16).
The tolls announced on recent Saturdays were 675 on February 6, 787 on January 30, 825 on January 23, 926 on January 16, and 789 on January 9.
The latest figures were announced as the UK neared the 15 million mark for first dose Covid vaccinations, and surge testing was announced for three new areas after new cases of the more infectious South African variant were detected.
Boris Johnson said while coronavirus infection rates are falling, overall numbers remain very high.
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“We have made huge progress with the rollout of the vaccines. That is great,” he said during a visit to a vaccine manufacturing facility in Teesside.
“But we have still got infections running very high throughout the country – levels which last year we would have thought were really very high indeed (and) still sadly a great many deaths in our hospitals.
“Although the number is beginning to come down, and perhaps starting to come down quite fast, we need to look at the data very, very hard.”
He added: “Something also that will be very important is the efficacy of the vaccines – are they working in the way that we hope that they are? – and making sure they are really helping, along with the lockdown, to drive down the incidence. That is the key thing.”
Meanwhile, surge testing for the more infectious South African variant was being expanded to Middlesbrough, an area north of Basingstoke in Hampshire, and new neighbourhoods in Walsall in the West Midlands after further cases were detected.
Here is a look at the Covid-19 situation in each UK nation on Saturday.
NHS England announced a further 436 deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in NHS hospitals in England to 78,588.
The latest victims were aged between 21 and 100 years old. All except ten (aged 49 to 89 years old) had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths occurred between January 4 and Friday.
The Midlands had the highest total (96), followed by the South East (79) and London (69).
There were 58 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
Scotland has recorded 45 deaths from coronavirus and 908 positive tests in the past 24 hours, according to official figures.
The number of people who died after first testing positive for the virus within the previous 28 days has fallen from the 67 announced on Friday.
It brings the total death toll under this measure to 6,711.
The number of new Covid 19 cases was 78 higher than the 830 reported on Friday, although they accounted for 4.9 per cent of all new tests – down slightly from the previous day’s 5.2 per cent.
There were 59,820 first doses of coronavirus vaccines administered in the 24 hours up until 8.30am on Saturday and a further 443 second doses, according to the Scottish Government’s figures.
The number of first doses was down 5,058 compared to Friday’s figure, although there were 72 more second doses administered.
A total of 1,173,445 people have now received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and 14,009 have received their second dose.
Public Health Wales said there had been a further 22 deaths.
The toll in Wales now stands at 5,106.
There were 400 new confirmed cases to bring the total to 198,761 since the pandemic began.
Northern Ireland’s Department of Health announced 10 more deaths for a total of 1,985.
A total of 303 new cases were confirmed for an overall count of 108,737.
-- to www.mirror.co.uk