THE UK’S Covid cases have fallen for the 10th day in a row in signs the peak of the most recent wave has been reached.
Government officials announced 69,811 Covid new infections this afternoon, down 10 per cent on the 77,509 reported last Friday.
It’s a 10-day streak for improving daily Covid cases, including Saturday and Sunday when figures are not reported.
A further 191 deaths were also logged today, against the 172 last week.
Improvements in deaths – and hospitalisations, which are still on an upward trend – always lag behind case rates.
Omicron has been shown to be milder than previous strains, with health chiefs saying although cases are high, this is not translating to more severe disease.
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It comes as a leading study into infection levels across the UK says a record 4.9 million people in the UK had the virus last week.
The Office for National Statistics estimated that one in 13 in England were infected with the bug, and one in 12 in Scotland.
Kara Steel, Senior Statistician for the COVID-19 Infection Survey, said: “Infection levels remain high, with the highest levels recorded in our survey seen in England and Wales and notable increases among older age groups.
“The rapid rise continues to be fuelled by the growth of the Omicron BA.2 variant across the UK.
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“We continue to closely monitor the data and remain thankful to all of our participants for their contribution.”
The ONS figures are based on swabbing thousands of random households two weeks ago.
But more timely data, from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, reports a similar finding.
It predicted that one in 15 people in the UK had Covid, based on data leading up to March 29.
Lead scientist on the study, King’s College London epidemiologist Tim Spector, said: “While Covid cases continue to soar to all-time highs, the rate of increase is showing signs of slowing down.
“This is a promising sign that we’ll hopefully see case numbers beginning to drop once again.
“However, as the Government cuts off free testing and all restrictions are lifted it’s difficult to predict where things will go from here.”
Lateral flow tests have become crucial since the summer of 2021.
But from today, the Government has stopped offering free at-home testing kits to England.
It’s part of the plan to “live with Covid”, with the other home nations soon to follow.
The Department of Health and Social Care said testing has come at a “significant cost” to the taxpayer, with the testing, tracing and isolation budget costing more than £15.7 billion in 2021/22.
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The majority of people will now need to buy tests on the high street, for around £2 per swab, if they want to check if they have Covid.
A small group of people will still be able to get their hands on tests because they are the most at-risk of catching it.