U.K. health authorities are voicing some early, positive signs that the country may be getting a hold on the deadly coronavirus pandemic, fueled by a highly transmissible variant.
England has been under a strict national lockdown, announced Jan. 4, which could remain in place until March, per reports. The order requires residents to stay home, apart from limited reasons like medical assistance, exercise, shopping for essentials and work.
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Though NHS hospitals are facing extreme pressure, and deaths continue to surge at highs not seen since last spring, the number of positive cases has been declining since early January, dropping from roughly 50,000 daily cases to some 40,000 in England, according to government data.
U.K. confirmed cases are down by 22% over last week. The case rate in England also appears to have fallen since Jan. 10, dropping from about 600 per 100,000 people to 500, according to 7-day figures. Case rates across the U.K. mirror this recent trend, and declined lower to 460 per 100,000 in the same timeframe.
“Data show that we are getting this under control,” Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at a briefing this week, later adding: “Don’t blow it now, we’re on the route out, we’re protecting the most vulnerable, we’re getting the virus under control.”
Hancock also said he is self-isolating until Sunday after he was alerted of potential coronavirus exposure through the NHS COVID-19 app.
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Dr. Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England also released an encouraging message, emailed to Fox News: “Whilst there are some early signs that show our sacrifices are working, we must continue to strictly abide by the measures in place.”
Data from the U.K. lists 39,000 people in hospital care, with daily admittances at record highs since the onset of the pandemic, exceeding the 4,000 mark. Prof. Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, added that 15,000 coronavirus patients were admitted to hospitals since Christmas.
Over 4 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in the U.K., and vaccine eligibility has just been expanded to those aged 70 and up.