Britain's daily Covid cases have fallen by almost a third in a week, official data revealed today — while England's hospitalisations dropped by a tenth.
And in another promising sign that the outbreak is shrinking, the number of deaths across the UK dropped by five per cent after 158 fatalities were recorded.
Department of Health statistics showed another 26,911 infections were recorded in the last 24 hours, down from 38,013 last Thursday.
It marked the eighth day in a row that cases have fallen week-on-week, with the decline being mostly driven by a downturn in England and Scotland according to the Government's own data.
England is still yet to suffer a Scotland-style spike in cases following the return of millions of pupils to schools, despite gloomy warnings that a sizeable uptick was inevitable. Children have now been back in classrooms for over a fortnight.
Latest hospitalisations for England showed they had fallen 10 per cent in a week after 701 people were admitted to hospital with the virus on September 14, the latest available. There were no figures for the UK published today.
It comes as Public Health England's weekly Covid surveillance report showed infections had fallen in nine out of ten council areas in Enlgnad last week, in another sign the return of schools hadn't triggered a surge.
They said only 11 of 149 local authorities saw infections rise in the week ending September 12, and two of them — West Berkshire and Gloucestershire — actually saw their cases fall.
Separate data from King's College London researchers behind symptom-tracking app ZOE also suggested Covid infections had dipped, predicting the number of daily infections fell below 50,000 in the UK last week for the first time since mid-August.
Boris Johnson is hoping to rely on booster vaccines and jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds to keep the virus in check this winter, but has admitted face masks and WFH guidance could be brought back if Covid hospitalisations spiral out of control.
ENGLAND: The above graph shows Covid cases in England by date reported. It reveals that they are still sliding in the country a fortnight after children returned to school
SCOTLAND: The above graph shows Covid cases in Scotland by date reported. It reveals that they are now spiralling downwards after initially surging when schools reopened
WALES: The above graph shows Covid cases in Wales by date reported. These have also started to level off in the country amid the return of schools
NORTHERN IRELAND: The above graph shows cases in the UK nation by date reported. It reveals that they have started to dip in Northern Ireland, although they remain at a high level
‹ Slide me ›
Public Health England's weekly surveillance report revealed only 11 of 149 authorities saw outbreaks grow in the week ending September 12. The percentage change in the 149 local authorities across England in the week ending September 5 (left) and the most recent week ending September 12 (right)
The Covid Symptom Study estimated 47,276 people in the UK were catching the virus every day in the week to September 11. This was a drop of nine per cent on the same time the previous week
England's Covid vaccine rollout has saved more than 100,000 lives and stopped nearly quarter of a million hospital admissions, according to official figures.
Public Health England estimates the jabs stopped up to 230,800 adults over the age of 45 being hospitalised.
Some 178,900 hospitalisations were prevented among those aged over 65, it said.
Meanwhile, around 51,900 people aged 45 to 64 did not need hospital care because they were immunised.
Estimates for the number of deaths prevented by vaccinations in England stands at 112,300, PHE said.
The figures were calculated by PHE and Cambridge University based on data up to September 5.
Some 89 per cent of all people aged 16 and over in England have now received one dose of vaccine, while 81 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Vaccine take-up continues to be lower among younger age groups, however.
Some 83 per cent of 30 to 39-year-olds in England have now had one jab, along with just 73 per cent of people aged 18 to 29.
PHE data revealed Covid cases continued to grow in just 11 parts of the country between September 6 and 12.
Newcastle upon Tyne saw the biggest surge in the country, with cases rising by 11.1 per cent. It was followed by Northumberland (10.3 per cent) and Leicester (9.5 per cent).
Local outbreaks also pushed case numbers up in the rest of Leicestershire (5 per cent), Oldham (4.6 per cent), Blackpool (3.1 per cent) and Coventry (1.4 per cent).
Meanwhile, tiny increases in infection rates were spotted in Middlesbrough (0.9 per cent), Redcar and Cleveland (0.8 per cent), Southend-on-Sea (0.8 per cent) and Calderdale (0.4 per cent).
At the other end of the scale, data showed infections more than halved in West Berkshire (down 54.2 per cent) and Gloucestershire (down 52.7 per cent).
Cases also fell in South Gloucestershire (down 49.5 per cent), Bristol (down 49.4 per cent) and Swindon (down 48.9 per cent).
PHE data showed cases fell at a national level and in all nine regions of the country, in a marked change from last week when increased slightly in every area apart from the South West.
The North-East had the highest rate, with 370 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to September 12.
Meanwhile, they were the lowest in London, where 212 per 100,000 people tested positive last week.
But with large numbers returning to offices last week and Transport for London experiencing its busiest day since before the pandemic, cases in the capital could rise in the coming weeks, experts fear.
Experts had warned cases in England were likely to soar as pupils returned to classrooms last week.
Scotland experienced its highest ever spike in infections after schools resumed last month, according to official figures.
But a similar spike has not yet appeared south of the border.
Cases among five to nine-year-olds were on the rise. But they dropped in all other age groups.
Meanwhile, those aged 80 and over were least likely to have the virus last week, with just 105 per 100,000 testing positive.
So far, 6.2million people have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic, but the actual figure is thought to be much higher, as not everyone who catches the virus takes a test.
In response to the findings, Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director of PHE said: 'There are still high levels of infection in the community.
'We are in a much better place today to deal with the virus than we were a year ago, but we must not be complacent.
'The vaccines are the best defence we have against the virus so please make sure to get protected.
'Those over 50 and the clinically vulnerable will be offered a third primary dose six months after their second dose and 12-15-year-olds can have one dose to help protect themselves and their families.
'It is important to keep following the simple steps to help protect yourself and others.
'Wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, stay at home if you feel unwell and get a PCR test as soon as possible if you have any Covid symptoms.'
King's College London scientists and experts from health data science company ZOE found cases were rising among 0 to 18-year-olds, but falling in all other age groups
When breaking the country down by regions they found that cases were remaining flat in most areas. Infections fell in the Midlands, South East, London, East of England and South West last week, they said
Separate figures from Test and Trace suggested Covid cases rose nine per cent last week, after it recorded more than 205,000 cases in the week to September 8
The above graph shows Covid cases among people who have received two doses of the Covid vaccine (red line) and the population (blue line). Almost 90 per cent of over-16s have already received one dose of the jab
Nearly nine in 10 people in the UK aged 16 to 24 have Covid antibodies, according to