THE number of people who have died of Covid in UK hospitals has dropped by 50 per cent in a week – with another 10 deaths recorded today, the joint lowest for six months.
Meanwhile, numbers of those newly-diagnosed with the deadly bug have plunged 40 per cent week-on-week – and are the lowest since last summer.
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Yesterday, a further 10 deaths were recorded, meaning the totals across the Easter weekend are the lowest daily tolls since September 14.
By comparison, more than 1,000 people died of Covid on average each day in January, making it the deadliest month of the pandemic so far for Britain.
And the number of people returning positive tests hasn't been so low since August 30, when 1,715 new cases were confirmed.
In hospitals in England, 15 more people lost their lives. Patients were aged between 40 and 96, and all had known underlying health conditions.
In Scotland, 343 new cases were reported – but there were no fatalities.
It comes as the country enters its first weekend since the stay-at-home order was lifted, with Scots now encouraged to "stay local".
A further 95 new positive tests were recorded in Wales, and two more people died.
It comes as:
- Boris Johnson will give the green light to holidays abroad from May 17
- British clubbers will hit the dance floor as part of a new trial next week
- Millennials will be offered a single-shot 'jab and go' vaccination
- A plan for vaccine passports in pub has been ditched by the PM in a huge boost for the industry
- Two mums have appeared in court accused of failing to quarantine after a trip to Dubai for boob jobs
Deaths may be continuing to drop so sharply because fewer over-70s are falling ill in the first place.
In 52 areas of England, there have been no new cases of Covid in that age group for more than a week.
And while there's usually a strict north-south divide – with the most recent epicentres for the Kent variant emerging in London and the south-east before travelling north – the new 'notspots' are spread across the country.
Burnley, Boston, Southwark and Stafford have all recorded zero cases in over-70s in recent days.
Epping Forest in Essex, which in early January had the second-highest rate of infection among over-70s with nearly 1,200 cases per 100,000 people, has not had a case in that age group since March 18.
People in the age group are far more likely to be hospitalised and die of Covid, accounting for more than 85 per cent of all coronavirus deaths last year.
But the vaccination drive is turning the tide, and the Office for National Statistics says almost 100 per cent of England's over-70s have now received at least one dose of the jab.
It was yesterday reported that five million Brits have had both of their jabs.
Meanwhile, Britain's strict lockdown – which for a time was one of the most draconian in the world – is now beginning to ease.
People across the country have made the most of this week's stunning weather to meet outside in groups of up to six.
But the mercury will plunge tomorrow – just in time for Boris Johnson to make four big Covid announcements to the nation.
The PM is tipped to reveal more on holidays, vaccine passports, lockdown and social distancing.
Pub beer gardens, gyms, hairdressers and non-essential shops are set to reopen for the first time in months on April 12.
Outdoor venues such as zoos, drive-in cinemas and other outdoor hospitality venues will also hopefully be opening up to the public.
And campsites and holidays may also open once more, while weddings and civil partnerships can have up to 15 people attending.
The PM has vowed not to move too quickly through his roadmap – and says the route out of lockdown must be "cautious but irreversible".
Elsewhere, he's ditched plans to force customers to show a vaccine passport every time they go into a boozer in a major boost for the hospitality trade.
Bars and restaurants will be exempted from new Covid safety rules.
Only those attending mass gatherings, such as festivals or major sports events, will be required to provide proof of a jab, test or natural immunity.
Landlords, who can reopen outdoors-only a week tomorrow in England, will soon be free to admit anyone who follows existing guidelines on social distancing and mask-wearing.
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