Daily UK Covid cases flatline with 47,240 infections up just 0.9% on last week

Daily UK Covid cases flatline with 47,240 infections up just 0.9% on last week
Daily UK Covid cases flatline with 47,240 infections up just 0.9% on last week

Britain's Covid infections began to flatline today, official data has shown after weeks of plummeting deaths and hospitalisation numbers  

Department of Health bosses posted 47,240 new infections over the last 24 hours, up just 0.9 per cent on last Thursday's figure of 46,807.

It was the seventh day in a row cases have increased but the first time the percentage jump was below one since November 10.

Data also showed 147 people died within 24 hours of a positive Covid test today, down more than a quarter (26.1 per cent) on the 199 recorded last week.

And hospital admissions are continuing to fall, with 745 recorded on Sunday, the latest date data is available for. It was down 6.8 per cent on the previous Sunday. 

Experts believe the disparity between Britain's recent surge in cases compared to the falling deaths and hospitalisations is explained by the fact that the spike in cases has been driven by schoolage children who are less vulnerable to the virus.

Rates of infection have fallen in all over-60s, according to separate figures from the UK Health Security Agency released today. It showed cases are rose in three quarters of England's local authorities last week. The agency's weekly surveillance report found the number of positive cases overall increased by eight per cent from 223,000 in the week ending November 14 to last week.

And the ZOE symptom-tracking study today revealed symptomatic Covid cases rose by nearly a fifth last week with more than 76,000 Britons falling ill each day. 

Symptomatic Covid cases rose by nearly a fifth last week with more than 76,000 Britons falling ill each day, according to the ZOE symptom-tracking study

Symptomatic Covid cases rose by nearly a fifth last week with more than 76,000 Britons falling ill each day, according to the ZOE symptom-tracking study

Super-mutant 'vaccine resistant' Botswana Covid variant is driving South African surge 

A new Covid variant feared to be ultra infectious and vaccine resistant is driving a Covid surge in South Africa and could become dominant in the country 'very quickly', scientists warned today.

Around 100 cases of B.1.1.529, its scientific name, have been detected so far in three countries and the World Health Organization is convening an emergency meeting tomorrow to investigate the troubling strain.

South Africa's Health Minister Joe Phaahla described the variant as 'a major threat', warning that it was behind an 'exponential' increase in cases across the country.

Experts in the UK today called for the red travel list to be reimposed to prevent the strain being seeded in the country. Professor Christina Pagel, from Independent SAGE, urged ministers to 'get ahead of this right now'.

Nationally, infections in South Africa have surged tenfold from 100 per day to 1,100, after the variant was first detected in neighbouring Botswana on November 11.

Professor Tulio de Oliveira, a director of Covid surveillance in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, told a hastily organised press conference today that it has been spotted in nearly every corner of South Africa.

He admitted he was still 'uncertain' about the impact of the variant — which could be named 'Nu' by the WHO within days — on the country's epidemic, with other scientists saying that it might be so evolved that it becomes unstable.

But Professor Oliveria explained the new variant has five times more mutations on a specific part of the spike protein than Delta — meaning it might be better at infecting vaccinated people than the world-dominant strain.

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In other coronavirus developments today:

Britons face being banned from travelling into the EU unless they are fully vaccinated against Covid under new rules being hammered out in Brussels today;  The EU's drug regulator approved the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as five; Data showed less than a quarter of pregnant women in the UK have had a Covid vaccine;  Experts said Novavax vaccine, which may be just days away from approval in the UK, could be safer for children than the UK's current jabs;  The family of a grandmother in her 50s left brain-damaged and paralysed from the neck down after contracting Covid have today won the latest stage of a life-support treatment battle; A vegan patient spoke of her upset after claiming she was left unwell in a Brighton hospital bed with nothing to eat but ginger nut biscuits.

Britain's slight increase in cases took the total amount of people who have had the virus at some point during the pandemic up to more than 10million. 

The true number of people who have had the virus is likely to be higher because of a shortage of testing in the early months of 2020 and people not getting tested when they are asymptomatic.

Meanwhile, the ZOE symptom-tracking study estimated that 76,728 people fell ill per day in the week ending November 20, based on test results from around 750,000 volunteers. It marked a rise of 18 per cent compared to the estimate on the previous week and means one in 66 Britons suffered a symptomatic

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