Coronavirus cases and deaths reported in the last 24 hours have dropped again as Boris Johnson prepares to push forward with removing the last remaining Covid restrictions in England
A further 41,648 Covid cases and 35 deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours in the UK.
Last Monday, the Government announced 57,623 cases and 45 deaths, meaning infections and fatalities are down by 27% and 22% respectively.
It comes after weeks of declining cases since infections reached an all-time high over the New Year.
Boris Johnson is now planning to move forward the date when the few remaining Covid restrictions will be scrapped in England
The Prime Minister announced at PMQs on Wednesday that he expects the rules to end a “full month early”.
This would see the end of self isolation for those who test positive which was originally scheduled to begin on March 24.
Mr Johnson said: “It is my intention to return on the first day after the half-term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid.
“Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions – including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive – a full month early.”
But the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have warned lifting all restrictions will have a “disproportionate impact” on vulnerable people.
In minutes from the group’s meeting on Thursday, members warned: “Increased ambiguity about a requirement to self-isolate upon testing positive will also disproportionately impact vulnerable sections of the population.”
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They also raised concerns about the consequences of removing access to free testing and called for “clear and consistent” messaging to the public about the ongoing risks.
Meanwhile, a new Covid variant that is a hybrid of the Omicron and Delta strains is officially being monitored by health chiefs.
The new variant – labeled Deltacron – has been identified in a UK patient and was named by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in its weekly “variants in monitoring” list.
The new variant is believed to have evolved in a patient who caught both the Omicron and Delta variants at the same time.
The exact number of Deltacron cases is unknown, although scientists at this stage reportedly believe case numbers are ‘low’.
It’s also unclear how infectious or severe the newly evolved virus is, although the UK Health Security Agency said it was only listed on the weekly variant breakdown because “we monitor everything as a matter of course”.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that the new variant ‘shouldn’t pose too much of a threat’ because of the UK’s high vaccine uptake and strong levels of immunity against the original Delta and Omicron strains.
“So at the moment I’m not overly worried at the moment. If both Delta and Omicron are falling then, in theory, this [variant] should struggle to take off,” he said.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.