Britain's daily Covid cases creep up again with 2,493 positive tests

Britain’s daily Covid cases creep up again with 2,493 positive tests in 3.4% jump on last week as deaths stay low at 15 – but separate data shows fatalities are at the lowest levels since BEFORE first lockdown last March

  • Some 122,379 first vaccine doses dished out on Monday taking the overall number to nearly 38.2million
  • 332,955 second doses were also given out with 23.2million people in the country now fully vaccinated 
  • ONS data released today showed weekly coronavirus death occurrences fell to 73 in the week ending May 14 

Covid cases have crept up again today in the UK, with 2,493 tests recorded in the country — a 3.4 per cent rise on last week.

The slight increase in cases continues a seven-day trend of cases increasing week-on-week, although overall case numbers remain low.

Deaths with Covid also increased today to 15 up from just seven on Tuesday last week. The large week-on-week rise of 114 per cent is likely to be just a blip, with numbers so low overall.

And Britain’s mammoth vaccination drive has been continuing at pace, with 122,379 first doses dished out on Monday, taking the overall number to nearly 38.2million.

Some 332,955 second doses were also given out yesterday, with more than 23.2million people in the country now fully vaccinated. 

The figures come after separate official data released today showed weekly Covid deaths had fallen to their lowest level since before the first lockdown last March in England and Wales.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed 73 virus fatalities occurred across the two countries in the week ending May 14 — the fewest since the seven-day spell that finished on March 13, 2020 (44) and a fall of 32 per cent on the previous week (108).

Weekly Covid registered deaths increased slightly, from 129 to 151. But experts said this was because of the bank holiday weekend at the start of the month, which skewed data because some of the deaths occurring on that weekend were not recorded until the following week.

Every region in England saw zero Covid deaths on at least one day during the week other than the West Midlands — and no area saw more than five per day. The East Midland and South West had the fewest during the week (both three) while the West Midlands saw 16 over the same period.

England’s and Wales’ low death toll comes as a result of the success of the huge vaccine roll-out as lockdown restrictions continue to ease in both countries. Across the UK more than 38million people have now had their first dose of the vaccine and 22.9million people have had their second.

The figures come amid fears surrounding growing case numbers of the Indian variant in hotspots of England, with Britons now told not to travel to Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside in an attempt to thwart the spread of the mutant strain.

The Indian variant has already spread to almost half the country, or 151 out of 315 council areas, and is thought to now be the dominant strain in the country having displaced the Kent variant. Estimates suggest it may be around 30 per cent more transmissible but vaccines work against it. 

Death numbers usually lag behind cases by a fortnight, so the ONS figures today will not have been affected by the slight uptick in infections caused by the B.1.617.2 strain. Deaths have yet to spike in Bolton — the worst-hit area in the country currently — with just three fatalities recorded in the Greater Manchester borough since the start of May.

Weekly Covid deaths have fallen to their lowest level since before the first lockdown last year in England and Wales, official data has revealed

The ONS figures released today also show influenza and pneumonia are now the underlying cause for nearly three times as many weekly deaths (287) as Covid (108).

Most of the deaths occurred in people age 85 and over (48), followed by those aged 75 to 85 (35), 45 to 64 (32), 65 to 75 (31), and 15 to 45 (five). 

Some 30 care home resident deaths involving Covid in England and Wales were registered in the week to May 14, double the number for the previous week.

The week-on-week change will have been affected by the bank holiday on May 3, when registry offices were likely to be closed, the ONS said.

In total, 42,461 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began. The ONS figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

A total of 153,093 deaths have now occurred in the UK where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.

The highest number of deaths to occur on a single day was 1,477 on January 19. During the first wave of the virus, the daily death toll peaked at 1,461 deaths on April 8 2020.

Every region in England saw zero Covid deaths on at least one day during the week other than the West Midlands — and no area saw more than five per day. The East Midland and South West saw the fewest during the week (both three) while the West Midlands saw 16 over the same period

Weekly Covid registered deaths increased slightly from 129 to 151 from the week ending May 7 to the most recent week but this came as a result of the bank holiday weekend at the start of the month

The figures also show influenza and pneumonia are now the underlying cause for nearly three times as many weekly deaths (287) as Covid (108)

Most of the deaths occurred in people age 85 and over (48), followed by those aged 75 to 85 (35), 45 to 64 (32), 65 to 75 (31), and 15 to 45 (five)

Britons were today told not to travel in or out of eight Indian variant hotspots to thwart the spread of the mutant strain and keep lockdown-easing plans on track.

Local councils left reeling by the change today blasted ministers for failing to consult or even inform them about the update, which appears to have been made on May 21 but was only spotted yesterday.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused ministers of ‘shameful’ behaviour for making the change without telling local people, and demanded they provide clarity ‘fast’. ‘Local lockdowns are the wrong approach for both public health and local economies,’ he said. 

Bolton MP Yasmin Qureshi said she was left ‘gobsmacked’ by the change, adding ‘the least I would expect is a letter or email from (Matt Hancock) or his office as a matter of courtesy’. Newly elected West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin called for the Health Secretary to explain the change to Parliament.

But Cabinet minister Therese Coffey defended the change, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was ‘sensible’ to issue extra guidance for Indian variant hotspots. The Work and Pensions Secretary said people living in these areas should consider ‘whether it really is essential’ for them to travel, and should limit activities where they risked either passing on or catching the variant.

The Indian variant has already spread to almost half the country, or 151 out of 315 council areas, and is thought to now be the dominant strain in the country having displaced the Kent variant. Estimates suggest it may be around 30 per cent more transmissible but vaccines still work against it.

Dr Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist and member of a SAGE advisory committee, today warned a ‘substantial amount of cases’ of the Indian variant could translate into hospitalisations — which would put some local health services under increased pressure. 

‘GOBSMACKED’ LOCAL LEADERS CONDEMN THE GOVERNMENT FOR ADVISING AGAINST TRAVEL TO COVID HOTSPOTS 

MPs and local health chiefs voiced shock today after the government advised against travel to Indian variant hotspots – but did not tell anyone about the change for four days.

Politicians said they were ‘gobsmacked’ that the guidance on gov.uk had been updated on Friday to say only ‘essential’ visits should be made to affected areas, without any formal announcement being made.

People are being urged not to move in or out of Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside unless it is unavoidable – although there is no legal restriction.

A televised press briefing on Wednesday, which focused heavily on the Indian variant, did not reference any specific travel measures for the affected areas.

Labour MP Ruth Cadbury ridiculed the restrictions on Hounslow in London, pointing out that the Picadilly line and the A4 both run through the borough to Heathrow Airport.

It comes as Britons are being warned they may be forced to isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with an infected person after June 21 even if they have been fully vaccinated.

The threat of having to quarantine will likely undermine plans to return to normality next month, even for those who have received two Covid jabs.

It could also mean a far slower return to the office for some, as a single infection could still spark a mass quarantine of staff, even if most have been vaccinated. Having a subsequent negative test would not be enough to bring about an end to the quarantine.

Government sources say it is crucial that the contract tracing system stay in place because it is still possible for vaccinated people to pass on coronavirus. One told The Telegraph: ‘There is still a risk of getting the virus and spreading it on.’

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