Daily Covid cases and deaths rise by 2% in a week

Daily Covid cases and deaths rise by 2% in a week as infections hit 5,379 and fatalities creep up to 112 after yesterday’s six-month low – as separate figures show NO excess deaths were recorded last week for the first time since AUGUST

  • Department of Health bosses posted another 5,379 infections, marking a 1.6 per cent rise from last Tuesday
  • Another 112 victims were also added to the official toll, up 1.8 per cent in a week according to the figures
  • Experts suggested today the second wave may be over after figures showed there were no excess deaths
  • Office for National Statistics data showed England and Wales recorded fewer deaths than expected last week 

Britain today recorded a slight uptick in both coronavirus cases and deaths — despite scientists hailing separate data that suggested the second wave may be over. 

Department of Health bosses posted 5,379 infections, which is up 1.6 per cent from last Tuesday. But cases have yet to take off amid a huge testing boost and warnings they would shoot up when schools reopened in England on March 8. 

Another 112 victims were also added to the official toll, a week on-week rise of 1.8 per cent. But day-to-day figures fluctuate — and the overall trend is still heading downward thanks to tough lockdown restrictions and the UK’s successful vaccine roll-out, which has now seen 28.3million Britons jabbed.

Health chiefs also said a further 329,897 first doses were dished out yesterday, bringing the total to 28.3million. They also gave out 82,300 second doses, as the clock ticks down on when they must be delivered en masse.  

The figures come after separate data today showed England and Wales suffered no excess deaths for the first time since August last week – which experts hailed as a possible sign the second wave was over.  

Office of National Statistics (ONS) data revealed there were 10,987 fatalities from all causes in the week ending March 12 — 4.4 per cent down on the five-year average (11,498). Deaths were below expected levels in all regions except the East Midlands. 

Professor Neil Ferguson — the Government adviser whose grim modelling spooked ministers into the first lockdown a year ago today — said the data showed ‘the second devastating wave of the pandemic is behind us’.

It comes after Britain stood for a minute’s silence today to remember those who had their lives ‘tragically cut short’ by Covid, and ahead of a Downing Street statement from Boris Johnson tonight on the anniversary of the country’s first lockdown.

And as France and Germany signal they back plans to block vaccine exports to Britain amid a growing row over AstraZeneca doses made in the Netherlands but bound for the UK and the bloc’s sluggish roll-out.

There were fewer deaths from all causes including heart disease, dementia and Covid last week than the number expected based on the five-year average (blue line). This is the first time they have dropped below this level since August, and experts said it suggested the second wave is at an end


More than nine in 10 pupils attended schools in England last week – but a growing number of children were self-isolating at home due to possible contact with Covid-19 cases, Government figures show.

Attendance in state schools last week was the highest it has been at any point during the pandemic, the Department for Education (DfE) analysis shows.

But the data suggests that 169,000 pupils were out of class and self-isolating on Thursday last week due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus.

The DfE estimates that approximately 2 per cent of all state school pupils on roll – up to 201,000 children – did not attend school for Covid-19 related reasons on March 18, up from 1 per cent on March 11.

This includes 127,000 pupils who have been self-isolating due to a potential contact with a Covid-19 case from inside the educational setting, and a further 42,000 pupils were self-isolating due to a possible contact outside of school.

Meanwhile, 21,000 pupils were absent because they suspected they had Covid-19, 7,000 were off after testing positive for Covid-19, and 4,000 were absent as their school was closed due to Covid-19 reasons.

Secondary schools in England were given flexibility to stagger the return of their pupils between March 8 and 12 as these students are being asked to take voluntary Covid-19 tests on site as part of their return.

Overall, attendance in state schools was 91 per cent on March 18, up from 89 per cent on March 11 – when some secondary schools were still phasing in the return of pupils due to the logistics of mass testing. 

On the anniversary of the first lockdown:

  • Queen leads solemn salute to the 126,172 killed by the virus and the ‘grief and loss that continues to be felt by so many one’;
  • William lights a candle and Kate lays daffodils to remember victims on visit to Westminster Abbey;
  • New York Covid variant spotted in Britain ‘does not pose a threat’ because it doesn’t have jab-resistant mutations, infectious diseases expert says;
  • Ex-Cabinet minister David Davis says vaccine passports could be illegal and warns pubs, theatres and stadiums could run ‘straight into a court case’ if they were to use the ‘no jab, no entry’ rule;
  • As Matt Hancock confirms Covid jab will be made compulsory for care home staff;
  • While France and Germany back plans to halt exports of AstraZeneca jabs from the continent amid growing row over doses made in the Netherlands;
  • And AstraZeneca hits back at US health officials who accused it of providing ‘outdated information’.

Department of Health figures today showed 38 local authorities across the country have an infection rate below 20 cases per 100,000 people.

Only one area – the Orkney islands – had no cases.

It was followed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in Scotland (3.7 per 100,000), North Devon (7.2 per 100,000), and South Hams also in Devon (8 per 100,000).

On the other hand Barnsley had the country’s highest infection rate (196.1 per 100,000), while Corby had the second highest (189.7 per 100,000) and West Lothian had the third highest (178 per 100,000).

Separate figures from the ONS today suggested that Britain’s second wave may have come to an end after almost three months of gruelling lockdown measures.

Deaths from all causes dipped below the five-year average last week, which statisticians use to estimate how many people would be expected to die in any given week. 

They had predicted fatalities could fall below this level by Easter because the Covid outbreak was shrinking quickly thanks to shutdown measures and the smooth vaccine roll-out. Experts also said deaths were front-loaded because so many elderly and vulnerable people fell victim to the disease last spring.

Across England, all regions registered fewer deaths than expected except the East Midlands, which had 12 more fatalities than the 987 predicted. 

Professor Ferguson, a top epidemiologist and No10 adviser at Imperial College London, said the figures were an encouraging sign that the UK had now exited the second wave.

‘But calling epidemics “waves” can be misleading, in implying a phenomenon which has reached a natural end,’ he said. ‘That is not the case here. The rapid decline in deaths we’ve thankfully seen is entirely because of the lockdown and the rapid roll-out of vaccines. 

‘So, while I’m optimistic that this we will be able to return to something more like normal in the next few months, we need to remain vigilant and cautious in the pace with which social distancing is relaxed – particularly given the threat still posed by new variants of the virus.’

Professor Kevin McConway, a statistician at the Open University, said it was ‘excellent’ to see deaths had fallen below the five-year average. 

He said: ‘This fall in the total number of deaths is almost entirely because deaths involving Covid have fallen very considerably.’ 

‘Some of this will be from the continuing effects of lockdown… but a considerable proportion of the fall in deaths involving Covid-19 must be because of vaccinations.’ 

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Deaths from all causes dipped below the five-year average last week for the first time since August amid plummeting Covid infections and surging vaccination rates

This graph also shows deaths dropping below the five-year average. There were 511 fewer fatalities than expected, marking a 4.4 per cent dip from the average

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