UK coronavirus cases today grew by 9,765 – the lowest the figure has been on any single day in the last four months.
Another 230 Covid deaths were also confirmed, making today’s daily death count the lowest recorded since the start of the latest lockdown.
The number of new infections recorded today was last lower more than four months ago on October 2 (6,968) and brings fresh hopes for easing restrictions.
By comparison, yesterday’s figures grew by 258 fatalities and 10,972 new cases.
Numbers on a Monday tend to be slightly lower due to a backlog in reporting over the weekend – and could catch up again tomorrow.
Today’s figures are nonetheless down considerably from last Monday, when another 754 people lost their lives and 14,104 tested positive.
It means a total of 4,047,843 have now tested positive for the bug since the start of the pandemic while 117,396 have died.
It comes as…
It comes as hopes grow for easing restrictions, with Boris Johnson set to outline his roadmap out of lockdown on February 22.
It was reported today that the rule of six could return and shops could open in weeks if infection levels continue to fall.
Meanwhile, senior government sources have claimed some outdoor activities will get the green light from March 8 next month.
It means Brits will be able to meet up with a friend to have a coffee on a park bench and even enjoy a picnic in the first easing of the Covid lockdown.
There’s also optimism that families could be reunited outside by Easter.
But the Prime Minister said today Covid cases need to come right down to ease the nation’s lockdown – or they will spike again and infect the elderly later.
He said that the rate of infection was a key part of lifting the restrictions on the nation, warning: “We want to see progress that is cautious but irreversible.”
Boris said he didn’t want to have to row back and force the nation into yet more shutdowns, so would be moving slowly to get the nation back to normal when he announces his plan next week.
He told reporters in a pooled clip today: “rates of infection, although they are coming down, are still high”, warning that high rates could mean vulnerable people were still at risk.
The PM said: “We would like to see the rates of infection come down very low indeed…
“We want to drive it right down, and keep it right down.
“People would much rather see a plan that is cautious but irreversible, and coordinates with where we are with the disease.”
So far, 15,300,151 have received their first dose of the vaccine while 539,630 have been given their second.
Mr Johnson told CBS News yesterday: “Thanks to the efforts of the British people, the lockdown, plus possibly the effect of the vaccine, we’re going to see the rates coming down more sharply.
“They’re falling at the moment. We want to be in a position where we can begin to open up.”
Today the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said the government was looking at a range of options to lift lockdown.
They said: “We’re looking at infection rates, and the transmission rates of the virus across the country, the number of people that are being hospitalised, the number of people who are currently in hospital and the number of people who are sadly going on to die from the virus.
They added that experts were also looking at the latest R rate, and the impact that the vaccination programme is having on transmission rates of the virus.
“So we’re looking at a whole range of evidence and data and it will be that that informs the road map that we publish on Monday next week,” they added.
— to www.thesun.co.uk