UK’s daily coronavirus infection numbers drop again despite nationwide toll rising

The UK’s daily coronavirus infection numbers are still steadily dropping, despite the nationwide toll rising week-on-week.

Fourteen more Covid deaths were reported on Sunday, in a rise of three from the same time last week.

But the number of new cases fell by 2% to 1,671 from last Sunday’s 1,712, with the next round of lockdown restrictions set to ease in less than two weeks.

The UK hit another vaccines milestone today with the number of people to have received two doses of the jab passing 15million.

More than 34m people have now had at least one dose.

Dominic Raab urged caution in the “last lap” of the fight against coronavirus, arguing there is only “a little bit more time” until all legal restrictions on social interaction are removed.

The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is administered at the community vaccination centre at Kingston University
The UK’s vaccine rollout hit another major milestone today as the number to have received a second dose passed 15million

The Foreign Secretary said on Sunday said “some safeguards” may stay in place when legal restrictions end, such as continued use of masks and social distancing.

He said “steady steps” out of lockdown are “the smart way to go” so that sacrifices are not squandered as people plead for hugs between family members to be legally permitted again sooner.

Mr Raab insisted that the Government would publish a list of nations deemed safe to visit “shortly” ahead of the expected lifting of the ban on international holidays for people in England from May 17.

Martin Gillibrand, 45, waits to receive a vaccination at a Boots pharmacy on Fleet Street in the City of London
More than 34million people nationwide have received a jab, Sunday’s official figures show

“We’re very close now to really turning the corner and I think we still need to be careful to go as I said we don’t want to see the gains lost and the sacrifices that have been made undone,” the Cabinet minister told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“By the time we get to June 21 almost all social restrictions will be lifted so there’s only a little bit more time to go, but it’s right to make sure we do that in a careful way.”

He acknowledged that the rollout of vaccines has increased the temptation for still prohibited social interactions outside individuals’ households including “hugging your loved ones that you haven’t been able to do for a while”.

Members of the public enjoy a drink at the Three Sisters Pub in the Cowgate as lockdown measures are eased in Scotland
Punters in Edinburgh enjoy a pint as Scotland eased some lockdown measures last week allowing beer gardens and shops to reopen

“I do think we just need to make sure that in the last lap, if you like, that we are careful and we don’t lose the gains we’ve made,” he added.

A scientist advising the Government warned on Sunday that it is vital that people do not think that vaccines are the only solution to halting the pandemic.

Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told Andrew Marr on BBC One: “We really do know that lockdown works and that public events, mass events, will feed the spread of the virus, and that we mustn’t take our concentration off that and think that just by vaccinating we are going to be out of the situation.”

People attend a test music festival as part of a national research programme assessing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in Liverpool
Liverpool hosted a test music festival this weekend as part of a national research programme assessing Covid risks of big events

Meanwhile, self-isolation requirements for contacts of Covid-positive individuals could be relaxed as a result of a major new study using rapid testing.

Daily lateral flow tests will be given to as many as 40,000 people who have a contact who has a confirmed case of the virus in the Government-backed research announced on Sunday.

Instead of the 10 days of quarantine currently required, the participants will be sent a week’s worth of tests and will be able to go about their lives as before, as long as the results are negative.

The trial across England may provide greater evidence to reduce the length of time contacts of positive cases need to isolate, under efforts to restart social lives and reopen the economy.

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