UK records 18,262 new Covid cases – down a fifth in a week

The UK has recorded 18,262 new coronavirus cases – down a fifth in just one week.

In a triumphant sign that the UK’s third national lockdown has slowed the spread of a highly-infectious Covid-19 variant, today’s daily case total is down 21.5 per cent on the 23,275 last Saturday. 

Britain’s daily death toll has plunged – with 828 fatalities recorded today. The figure is 31 per cent lower than the 1,200 seen on this day last week.

It marks the second Saturday in a row where deaths have dropped week-on-week – suggesting Britain’s death toll has caught up with the country’s decreasing case numbers. 

Today’s figures come as Worcestershire becomes the latest region to detect the South African coronavirus variant.

In other coronavirus news: 

  • All passengers arriving in Britain from countries not on the Covid hotspot list could have to take up to four tests during their at-home isolation period, it emerged last night; 
  • Worcestershire became the latest area to start ‘surge testing’ after the South African coronavirus variant was detected;
  • Kent airfield staff who test truckers for Covid have been accused of sleeping with each other and distributing drugs;
  • The boss of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce is ‘very confident’ Britain can offer jabs to all over-50s by May and say the UK is leading the way in the fight against mutant variants.

Worcestershire County Council has set up ‘surge testing’ in the WR3 postcode and parts of the WR9 postcode after cases of the variant with no links to international travel were identified.  

It comes as a million people in the North West of England have been told to take a Covid test if they have a runny nose, as part of a clampdown on a mutated virus detected in the region. 

A mobile testing unit has been set up at The White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester, for adults with no symptoms living within walking distance, a drive-through testing site will open and door-to-door testing will be rolled out. 

Worcestershire County Council said: ‘Working in partnership with NHS Test and Trace, every person over the age of 18, living in the WR3 postcode and some WR9 postcodes, is strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 test this week, even if they are not showing symptoms.’ 

Meanwhile, residents in the Liverpool city region, Preston and Lancashire have been urged by health bosses to get swabbed if they have even the slightest suspicion they are ill. 

It comes after more than 40 cases of an altered strain of the original virus, which carries a mutation experts fear makes vaccines less potent, was spotted in the three areas. 

Meanwhile, all passengers arriving in Britain from countries not on the Covid hotspot list could have to take four tests during their isolation period. 

Staff instruct a person on how to carry out a Covid-19 test at a mobile testing unit set up at the White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester

Staff instruct a person on how to carry out a Covid-19 test at a mobile testing unit set up at the White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester

Staff instruct a person on how to carry out a Covid-19 test at a mobile testing unit set up at the White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester

Workers have started testing residents near Worcester

Workers have started testing residents near Worcester

A member of the public grimaces as he is tested for Covid-19 at a mobile testing unit set up at the White Hart pub

A member of the public grimaces as he is tested for Covid-19 at a mobile testing unit set up at the White Hart pub

A member of the public grimaces as he is tested for Covid-19 at a mobile testing unit set up at the White Hart pub

In another significant toughening of border policy, travellers from safer countries will be told they must take the PCR tests during the standard ten-day home quarantine period.

While SAGE warned only mandatory hotel quarantine for all UK travellers would ‘come close’ to to stop new strains entering the country, it has emerged.

On the Worcestershire outbreak Dr Kathryn Cobain, director for public health in the county, said: ‘I urge everyone offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and to help suppress and control the spread of this variant.’

Despite the frantic bid to try and stop the mutated variants spreading in Britain, scientists have warned the cases identified so far are likely just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. 

Door-to-door and mobile testing began in Britain at the start of the month as part of urgent efforts to swab 80,000 people. This came after 11 cases of the variant were identified in people who had no links to travel – suggesting it may be spreading in communities.  

Any positive results as part of surge testing programmes will be sent for genome sequencing to identify the variant – a process which usually takes around a fortnight. 

The alteration, scientifically known as E484K, is also found on the South African and Brazilian variants which have led to Britain toughening up its border controls.

Even though the mutation does not specifically cause any different symptoms to the original strain, officials are broadening the criteria for a swab as a safety net to snuff out cases that would normally go undetected.

Link hienalouca.com

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