Britain's Covid infections fall for the tenth day in a row

Covid cases fall for tenth day in a row: Daily infections drop by 17% in a week to 26,144 and deaths go down by 15 to 71 amid warnings less people could be getting tested to avoid self-isolation

  • Department of Health bosses posted 26,144 today, down 17.8 per cent on last Saturday’s figure of 31,795 
  • Number of people dying with the virus has fallen 17.4 per cent down to 71 from 86 victims last Saturday
  • Health psychologist Robert West said people may be avoiding tests to they do not need to self-isolate 

Covid cases have fallen week-on-week for the tenth day in a row, in another sign of hope as the pandemic appears to be shrinking — but experts warn the drop off could be down to less people getting tests.  

Department of Health bosses posted 26,144 infections today, down 17.8 per cent on last Saturday’s figure of 31,795.

And the number of people dying with the virus has fallen to 71. The number of victims decreased 17.4 per cent from 86 last Saturday.

But a SAGE expert has warned the fall in Covid infections could be down to people avoiding getting tested so they don’t have to self-isolate rather than a real drop off in cases.

Professor Robert West, a member of the behavioural advisory group Spi-B, said Government messaging may have inadvertently given people a ‘green light’ that Covid isn’t that bad and that people may be avoiding the disruption of self-isolation.

The health psychologist told Radio 4’s Today programme that young people may also be less motivated to get tested because their symptoms are not as severe.

Ministers have been condemned for causing quarantine confusion as raging battle has erupted in the cabinet over plans for a danger list of countries that could see destinations like Spain and Italy suddenly move to red.

The plans for a new ‘amber watch list’ sparked outrage in Whitehall as some ministers believe it could ruin the holiday hopes of millions of Britons.

The idea, which was agreed in principle this week, would see holidaymakers warned that while they are abroad certain amber countries could go straight on to the red list. 

This would leave them facing compulsory hotel quarantine on their return, at a cost of £1,750 a head.

Spain and Italy both featured in talks about countries that could be put into the new category – as soon as next week – amid fears about the Beta variant, which first emerged in South Africa. 

Senior ministers, including Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are said to have reservations about imposing further disruption on the beleaguered travel sector.

Mr Shapps urged people to ‘ignore speculation’ ahead of decisions next week. But behind the scenes a battle is raging.

One Whitehall source said: ‘You would have to be crackers to book a holiday to a place knowing that it could go on to the red list at any moment.

‘If you have already booked to go there you are going to spend your whole holiday worrying whether you are going to have to make a dash to the airport to get home.

‘The decision next week will basically be in place for August. It is peak holiday season – are we really going to cause that much disruption to this many people?’

Another source said that the Treasury had warned ministers to ‘stop messing about with travel’.

Some ministers doubt whether it is even possible to put Spain on the red list this summer, given the limited amount of hotel quarantine capacity in the UK.

There was a glimmer of hope that France could be released from the ‘amber-plus’ list, meaning the fully vaccinated will finally be able to return to the UK without the need to quarantine.

But it could still go into the amber watch category.

It comes as:

  • Ministers were condemned for causing quarantine confusion as raging battle has erupted in the cabinet over plans for a danger list of countries that could see destinations like Spain and Italy suddenly move to red;
  • Scientists discovered a way for people to use mouthwash to test whether they have Covid instead of the invasive nasal and throat swabs;
  • Business leaders piled more ‘pingdemic’ pressure on Boris Johnson as they called on the Prime Minister to end self-isolation rules ‘tomorrow’; 
  • It was revealed Government modellers predicted there could be one million Covid cases a week in a last-minute warning before the July 19 ‘Freedom Day’;
  • The vast majority of adults told a new poll that they are continuing to wear face masks when out and about, despite no longer being legally required to do so;
  • Health bodies warned that oximeters that are used to detect early signs of dangerous falls in oxygen in Covid patients do not work as well for ethnic minorities;
  • The British advertising watchdog probes the ‘wild west’ market place of Covid travel tests after it was found most of the cheaper swabs listed on the Government’s website are not available to customers;
  • Japan extended its state of emergency as Covid cases continued to spread throughout Tokyo and into neighbouring districts just hours the prime minister denied any link between the virus and the Olympic Games.

The figures today come amid mounting confusion over the rate of infection across the UK as there is a discrepancy between official figures and survey data from bodies including the Office of National Statistics.

Britain’s daily Covid cases fell again yesterday for the ninth day in a row, amid mounting confusion over true state of the third wave. Department of Health bosses posted 29,622 cases — down 18.6 per cent on last week.

But the ONS, which carries out tens of thousands of random swab tests every week, estimated one in 65 people were carrying the virus on any given day in the seven-day spell ending July 24 — the equivalent of 856,200 positive cases. 

Experts have said the drop in official figures could be down to a multitude of factors – including fewer people coming forward to get tested because of the ‘pingdemic’ chaos and fears of having to self-isolate.

Professor West told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think one of the things that is a concern is that people may not be coming forward as they used to do for testing and one of the reasons for that I think may be that the messaging from the Government in a way has given them a sort of a green light to people to say well actually it’s not so bad if you get the infection and so if you go and get tested you have to self-isolate at least at the moment and that’s going to be very disruptive so I suspect that that may be a factor.

‘The messaging, I hope inadvertently, coming from the Government around the idea that we’ve broken the link between infections and hospitalisation and death which obviously then that gets sort of tracked back a bit because it’s not broken, it’s weakened but it’s not broken. I think all that kind of messaging is a factor.

‘Also I think because it is the case that a lot more younger people are being infected now who just by virtue of their age the severity of the symptoms and hospitalisation is much lower so the motivation to get tested will be less.

‘What I think we need to do is get back on track with some really clear messaging around that as with the vaccinations.’

The Department of Health data shows that hospital admissions in England have been falling for the last four days in a row.

Admissions fell 11 per cent week-on-week, down from 783 on July 21 to 728 on July 28.

New cases are still declining across the UK, but the number of tests taken has dropped 14.3 per cent in the last seven day, which could impact numbers.

Both the deaths and hospitalisation figures reported today are 6.3 per cent higher than they were seven days earlier. 

Meanwhile, 42,410 more first vaccine doses were dished out, while 180,155 people became fully immunised against Covid.

This means 88.4 per cent of adults in the UK have had one dose, while 71.8 per cent are double jabbed.

The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said that England’s R rate was now thought to be between 1.1 and 1.4, but it was a varied picture across the country. The R rate was estimated to be the highest in the East (1.1 to 1.5), followed by London, the South East and the South West (all 1.2 to 1.5). Following these regions was the Midlands (1.1 to 1.4), the North East and Yorkshire (1.1 to 1.3) and the North West (1 to 1.2)

There is mounting confusion over the rate of infection across the UK as there is a discrepancy between official figures and survey data from bodies including the Office of National Statistics

Yesterday, Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in public health at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘The decline in case numbers as reported by the DHSC today do not conflict with the report from ONS from earlier in the day as one would not expect to see any impact of the recent decline in the ONS figures till next Friday.’ 

While cases are continuing to rise across England in ONS’s data, the 15 per cent increase spotted by its random-test survey marks a slow down on the previous projection (28 per cent).

The Government agency’s estimate yesterday was based on swabs of more than 100,000 people in private homes across the country. 

It does not include tests in hospitals or care homes, so only provides a rough assessment of how widespread the disease is among the community.

The ONS estimates the North East is still the hardest hit, with 3.2 per cent of people there testing positive for the virus.

It is followed by the North West (2.1 per cent), the West Midlands (1.9 per cent), London (1.7 per cent) and the East Midlands (1.7 per cent).

Covid positivity rates were lowest in the East and the South West (both 1 per cent). 

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