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Covid is no longer the leading cause of death in England and Wales

Covid is no longer the leading cause of death in England and Wales for the first time since October and the number of people falling ill with the virus is at its lowest level since the pandemic began, according to statistics which strengthen the argument for a quicker easing of lockdown.

Office for National Statistics figures published today show coronavirus was only the third biggest killer in March, accounting for 4,387 out of total 48,551 deaths (9 per cent). It had been the leading cause of death for the past four months following the emergence of the highly-infectious Kent variant in autumn. 

Alzheimer’s and dementia were the biggest killers in England and Wales in March, with 4,915 deaths recorded (10.1 per cent), followed by heart disease and strokes which accounted for 4,904 deaths (also 10.1 per cent). 

Meanwhile, scientists behind Britain’s biggest Covid symptom tracking study said fewer people than ever are falling sick with the disease. The team at King’s College London estimated 870 people suffered a symptomatic infection per day, based on reports from more than a million Britons – the lowest since estimates began in June. 

And in yet more promising statistics published today, the Government’s Test and Trace programme found Covid cases continued to fall in the seven days to April 14, this time by nine per cent. 

Professor Karol Sikora, an expert in medicine at the University of Buckingham, told MailOnline that the number of Britons dying from Covid each day could be even lower than the 24 on average announced by the Government because of the way deaths are recorded. 

No10 includes anyone who has died from any cause within 28 days of a positive test.  It means patients who succumb to cancer, suffer a heart attack or get hit by a car weeks after recovering from the virus would make it into the statistics.

When a high number of people are being tested for Covid every day – about a million at the moment – a certain proportion of those will die naturally from other causes within 28 days. 

The findings will pile more pressure on Boris Johnson to release the country from lockdown quicker, with the next relaxation not due for almost another month. Mr Johnson has promised to stick to ‘data, not dates’ when it comes to easing curbs but has so far refused to budge on his rigid schedule, despite vanishingly Covid low deaths and fewer than 2,000 virus patients being treated by the NHS.  

Meanwhile, an interactive map breaking down Covid deaths by postcode shows 4,187 out of 7,200 neighborhoods recorded no virus fatalities during March. This was compared to 1,303 in February. No area suffered more than 10 coronavirus deaths last month. 

Overall the East Midlands had the highest death rate in March, with 118.9 Covid victims for every 100,000 people, followed by the West Midlands (103.8). The South West continued to have the lowest death rate (45.7).  

Office for National Statistics data shows coronavirus is no longer the leading cause of death in England for the first time since October. It has been overtaken by Alzheimer’s and dementia, and heart diseases

The virus has also dropped down to third in Wales, where ischaemic heart diseases were the biggest killer in March followed by dementia

The virus has also dropped down to third in Wales, where ischaemic heart diseases were the biggest killer in March followed by dementia

The ZOE Covid Symptom study app estimated 870 people in England were suffering a symptomatic infection with the virus every day last week. This is down to the same levels as in August, before the burdensome rule of six came into force

The ZOE Covid Symptom study app estimated 870 people in England were suffering a symptomatic infection with the virus every day last week. This is down to the same levels as in August, before the burdensome rule of six came into force

 

The ONS said that in total there were 656 more deaths from all causes in England in March than average in a non-pandemic year — or 1.6 per cent. In Wales, there were 87 fewer fatalities (2.8 per cent) than expected. 

Separate figures today showed fewer than 900 people in England are now catching Covid every day — the lowest level ever and below estimates for August when there were next to no restrictions.

King’s College London scientists estimated only 870 people had a symptomatic infection with the virus every day last week, based on reports from more than a million Britons.

Fewer than 900 people in England are now getting ill with Covid every day 

Fewer than 900 people in England are now catching coronavirus every day, according to a symptom-tracking app, the lowest level ever and below estimates for August when there were next to no restrictions.

King’s College London scientists estimated only 870 people suffered a symptomatic infection with the virus every day last week, based on reports from more than a million Britons.

This was the lowest number since estimates began in June, and below the previous low point in mid-August before the burdensome ‘rule of six’ and a flurry of other restrictions came into force.

Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist who leads the app, said the dropping cases signalled troublesome variants had not gained a foothold, which was likely down to the successful vaccination programme – already jabbed three in five Britons – social distancing, and warmer weather allowing people to spend more time outdoors.

And in yet more promising statistics published today, Test and Trace found Covid cases fell by nine per cent in the seven days to April 14, yet another sign Britain’s outbreak is still shrinking.

Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to speed-up his roadmap out of lockdown, after promising to be led by ‘data not dates’ when relaxing tight lockdown restrictions.

This was the lowest number since estimates began in June, and below the previous low point in mid-August before the burdensome ‘rule of six’ and a flurry of other restrictions came into force.

Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist who leads the app, said the dropping cases signalled troublesome variants had not gained a foothold, which was likely down to the successful vaccination programme – already jabbed three in five Britons – social distancing, and warmer weather allowing people to spend more time outdoors.

And in yet more promising statistics published today, Test and Trace found Covid cases fell by nine per cent in the seven days to April 14, in yet another sign England’s outbreak is still shrinking.   

Professor Spector said he was ‘encouraged’ by the promising figures, which suggested the troublesome variants that could make vaccines less effective were yet to gain a foothold.

‘Rates are down 28 per cent again this week and hopefully we’ll drop below the milestone of 1,000 cases in the next few days towards our record low last year in August. The ONS survey is also now showing downward trends.

‘I am encouraged to see no impact from the South African variant in the areas of Southwark and Lambeth where some expected it to get out of control. 

‘This is likely due to the vaccination programme, the continuation of social distancing measures and the improving weather making it harder now for any new variant to take hold.’

The ZOE Covid Symptom study app relies on more than a million Britons reporting symptoms and whether they have tested positive for Covid to estimate the spread of the disease across the country.

But they miss asymptomatic cases – which trigger no tell-tale signs – that make up about a third of all infections according to official estimates. 

England’s Covid cases dropped 30 per cent last week, they said, down from 1,271 people who were catching the virus every day in the previous seven-day spell.

This was well below the darkest days of January, when they estimated around 50,000 people were being infected by the virus daily.

Across the UK, the ZOE app estimated there were 1,271 daily Covid infections last week, a dip of more than 30 per cent as the country’s outbreak continues to shrink.

Test and Trace data also suggested Covid cases were heading in the right direction, falling by almost a tenth in England compared to the previous week.

The Covid surveillance system said 18,050 people who had tested positive for the virus were transferred to them in the week ending April 14, down nine per cent on the 19,767 from the week before.

Tracers recorded a drop despite an extra 600,000 swabs being carried out in the latest week, showing infections were still falling despite a huge boost to testing.

The test positivity rate – one of the best measures of Covid’s spread – was around 0.41 per cent in the latest week, down from 0.52 per cent in the previous seven-day period. It stood at 15 per cent at the height of the second wave. 

It comes after other data showed Britain is no longer one of the 20 worst-hit countries for excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Britain is no longer one of the 20 worst-hit countries for excess deaths during the pandemic, figures show. The UK has a rolling rate of 183 excess fatalities per 100,000, according to analysis by the Economist , putting it at number 21 behind Italy (197). Peru, which is in the midst of battling a wave of the Brazilian coronavirus variant, has the highest rate in the world at 412 per 100,000. Rounding out the top five are Bulgaria (338), Mexico (321), Russia (313) and Lithuania (301)

Britain falls out of the 20 worst-hit countries for excess deaths during the Covid pandemic, figures show

Britain is no longer one of the 20 worst-hit countries for excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic, figures show. 

The UK has suffered 121,000 more deaths than expected since March last year — a rate of 183 excess fatalities per 100,000 people, according to analysis of official figures by the Economist, putting it at number 21 behind Italy (197). 

Excess deaths are calculated by taking fatalities from all causes since the pandemic first struck and comparing them with a historical average from recent years. 

It is the first time that Britain has not had one of the worst excess death rates since the Covid crisis took off, after turning the tide on the virus thanks to a hugely successful vaccination programme and winter lockdown. 

Overall, the UK has still been one of the hardest hit nations in the world, suffering more than 127,000 Covid deaths in total. Only a handful of countries have more deaths both overall and per population size. 

Peru, which is in the midst of battling a wave of the Brazilian coronavirus variant, has the highest rate of excess deaths in the world at 412 per 100,000. Rounding out the top five are Bulgaria (338), Mexico (321), Russia (313) and Lithuania (301).

Fourteen other countries — including a number of EU member states, South Africa, and Ecuador — are recording rates of more than 200 excess deaths per 100,00. The US ranks at number 23, according to the analysis, with a rate just shy of Britain’s at 182 per 100,000. 

The excess fatality rate is one of the best ways to compare the pandemic’s impact on countries because it looks at more than just the official Covid death tolls. It includes people who died without the confirmation of a test, and those who passed from other causes as a result of lockdowns and their knock-on effects on hospital care.  

Excess deaths in the UK have been falling since the vaccine drive launched and the country went into lockdown over the winter. Deaths from all causes in England and Wales have been lower than average in the past five weeks, which has helped drive the rate down faster.  

The UK has suffered 121,000 more deaths than expected since March last year — a rate of 183 excess fatalities per 100,000 people, according to analysis of official figures by the Economist, putting it at number 21 behind Italy (197). 

Excess deaths are calculated by taking fatalities from all causes since the pandemic first struck and comparing them with a historical average from recent years. 

It is the first time that Britain has not had one of the worst excess death rates since the Covid crisis took off, after turning the tide on the virus thanks to a hugely successful vaccination programme and winter lockdown. 

Overall, the UK has still been one of the hardest hit nations in the world, suffering more than 127,000 Covid deaths in total. Only a handful of countries have more deaths both overall and per population size. 

Peru, which is in the midst of battling a wave of the Brazilian coronavirus variant, has the highest rate of excess deaths in the world at 412 per 100,000. Rounding out the top five are Bulgaria (338), Mexico (321), Russia (313) and Lithuania (301).

Fourteen other countries — including a number of EU member states, South Africa, and Ecuador — are recording rates of more than 200 excess deaths per 100,00. The US ranks at number 23, according to the analysis, with a rate just shy of Britain’s at 182 per 100,000. 

The excess fatality rate is one of the best ways to compare the pandemic’s impact on countries because it looks at more than just the official Covid death tolls. It includes people who died without the confirmation of a test, and those who passed from other causes as a result of lockdowns and their knock-on effects on hospital care.  

Excess deaths in the UK have been falling since the vaccine drive launched and the country went into lockdown over the winter. Deaths from all causes in England and Wales have been lower than average in the past five weeks, which has helped drive the rate down faster. 

On top of a brutal four-month lockdown over winter, Britain’s hugely successful vaccine rollout has helped it finally turn the tide on the Covid pandemic. 

More than 33million people have been given at least one dose of vaccine and over 10million have received both injections. 

Meanwhile, ministers will rush through covid passports in time for the start of holidays on May 17 with Greece ready to welcome vaccinated British tourists immediately while Spain and Portugal will throw open their borders from June quarantine potentially without quarantine on return, it was revealed today.

The European Union’s ban on visitors is not expected to apply to the UK because of its world-leading jab programme that has seen more than 33million get one dose and 10million of those receive both doses already.

Spanish Tourism Secretary, Fernando Valdés, said today his country is ‘ready’ for UK holidaymakers to travel to Spain and ‘restart holidays’, adding: ‘We are desperate to welcome you this summer. We’ve been having constant conversations with UK authorities’.

Mr Valdes confirmed the plan was for British holidaymakers to arrive from June, adding that a travel corridor between the two countries is firmly on the table with covid passports ‘easing’ the return of ‘safe’ travel.

He said: ‘I believe that certificates is going to help us. Since the beginning of the pandemic we have been trying to put in place different means to help safe tourism. It is true we have passed through some waves of this pandemic, this virus, but now I think we are ready because we do have vaccinations. We have been having constant conversations with UK authorities, these certificates are going to ease travel and help tourism from this summer on’.

The EU’s plans, code named ‘gettogether’ in Brussels, should allow vaccinated travellers to travel freely and avoid tests and quarantine, bringing hope to millions desperate to go abroad on holiday or to see family this summer for the first time in more than a year.

Officials from the EU’s 27 member states held their first meeting this week to discuss the plans but are already said to have decided that vaccination rates will be the key metric when deciding who can visit the bloc.

Insiders say Britain will ‘certainly’ be among the first to be allowed in through the vaccine passport scheme, with June touted as a start date. The country’s case was helped further yesterday when it fell out of the 20 worst-hit countries for excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic, for the first time.

In tandem with EU countries opening up for all vaccinated British travellers in around six weeks’ time, UK travel industry sources claim they have been told Covid passports are expected to be brought in from next month as Michael Gove was sent to Israel to study their ‘green pass’ app as a potential model. Paper options will also be available for people without smart phones, according to NHSX, the digital arm of the health service developing it.

Greece has already dropped its quarantine rules for travellers from more than 30 nations if they have been vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 from May 15 – two days before Brits can travel again. More than 20 other countries, including Spain, Croatia, Turkey, Portugal and Cyprus, have suggested that they may ask arrivals for vaccination proof.

A Government source said the Covid passport scheme would be in place next month to help people who want to travel to countries that are requiring proof of vaccination – but the source insisted that the key factor for Britons will be the rules on quarantine when returning to the UK.

‘You’ve got countries saying we will welcome you. But it depends what the precautions on return are. We will have that green amber red system. It is about what you face when you come back to the UK…. Can you isolate for 10 days?’, the insider said.

The source suggested that holidaymakers will not know what countries fall into what ‘traffic light’ category until around a week before May 17.

The criteria for assessing countries are set to include whether there are variants of concern, how good their genomic scanning system is, vaccination levels, and overall infection levels.

‘That will all become clear much nearer the time,’ one source said. ‘India has just gone off… You’re going to book a holiday in Spain in June? Well, good luck, but just make sure you are insured.’

Ministers are believed to be looking at whether islands can be treated separately from the mainland in some countries. Madeira was previously restricted when it had low cases, as Portugal was suffering high infection rates. Greece is also said to be trying to make individual islands Covid-free to help with restoring tourism.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk