There were 7,320 deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales registered in the week to 5 February, new ONS data shows – down 13% on the previous week’s figure.
However, 42.6% of all deaths recorded in this week were due to coronavirus, the third highest proportion recorded during the entire pandemic. In last week’s ONS release, Covid accounted for 46.2% of all deaths, which is the highest figure to date.
The majority of Covid-19 deaths (67%) occurred in hospital in the most recent week’s figures, while a further 24% took place in care homes.
Excess deaths – the proportion of deaths above the five-year average – also remained high, with 4,986 more deaths than the average week.
Rapid testing, as well as mass vaccination, could be central to reopening sporting and entertainment venues in England, the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, has said, adding that preliminary evidence on the effect of vaccines on coronavirus transmission was encouraging.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Zahawi said: “It’s a combination of rapid testing as well as the mass vaccination programme that will get our economy back on its feet and venues open again.”
Many venues, such as nightclubs, have been unable to reopen since the country first went into lockdown in March last year, while theatres reopened last summer with significantly reduced capacities.
Despite earlier doubts about their reliability, lateral flow tests, which can give results within 30 minutes, have been used by the government in “surge testing” in areas with high infection rates, and also in settings like schools, workplaces and care homes to test asymptomatic people.
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All regions of England recorded a week-on-week fall in the number of Covid-19 deaths, ONS says
Blackburn’s director of public health says it is clear the vaccine is working.
Dominic Harrison tweeted: “Cases are down & the majority of BwD hospitalised cases are now already under 70 for the first time in the Pandemic.”
Britain’s foremost economics thinktank has urged Rishi Sunak to use next month’s budget to announce a targeted extension of government support to tackle a “triple challenge” to the economy from Brexit, Covid and global heating.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the chancellor needed to steer clear of raising taxes in response to record peacetime borrowing of about £400bn inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic and called on him instead to focus on supporting the UK’s economic recovery from lockdown.
In an intervention as Sunak prepares to deliver the 3 March tax and spending set-piece in the Commons, the IFS said additional support was needed to help Britain adjust to the triple economic challenges presented by Brexit, Covid and meeting targets for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
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Nicola Sturgeon to expected to online plan to reopen schools
— to www.theguardian.com