THE number of people to die with Covid in the UK has dropped again as another 190 casualties were recorded.
Fatalities are down 81 per cent on the number recorded this time last month, when 1,001 more deaths were reported.
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Meanwhile, a further 5,926 people tested positive overnight – a drop of 54 per cent on February 10, when 13,013 people were newly-diagnosed.
The figures are also lower than this time last week, when 6,385 new infections and 315 deaths were recorded.
In hospitals in England, 145 further fatalities were recorded. Patients were aged between 42 and 98, and 12 of the casualties – aged 42 to 84 – had no known underlying health conditions.
The Midlands – currently England's worst-hit region – recorded 41 deaths, while 37 people died in the North East and Yorkshire, 21 in the North West and 16 in both the East of England and London.
A further eight people died in the South East and six in the South West.
in Scotland, 20 more deaths were recorded, while in Wales, six died.
It comes as:
- Scientists warn the super-infectious Kent mutation is up to twice as deadly as the original strain
- A new Covid 'epicentre' has emerged in the south
- Spain could open to travellers with vaccine passports from May
- But Grant Shapps said Brits should hold off booking a hol until April 12
- It was revealed A-level and GCSE exams will be easier in 2022 to help out students badly-hit by the pandemic
The UK's plunging death toll – at a time when Europe is bracing for another surge in cases – has raised hopes the country is through the darkest days of the crisis.
But today, an expert from Sage has warned that if lockdown eases too quickly, "tens of thousands" more could die.
Professor Andrew Hayward, of University College London (UCL), said there are uncertainties around the impact of reopening schools and shops.
The infectious disease epidemiologist, speaking to Times Radio in a personal capacity, said these are "very big steps" and "we don't really understand what impact they will have on transmission".
He said there are "very sizeable numbers of people" who are "vulnerable to ending up in hospital and dying".
Prof Hayward added: "And that's still going to be the case for a while.
"Although the vaccines clearly take the extreme out of that, and will stop us getting hundreds of thousands of cases, there's still possibilities for us to get tens of thousands of hospitalisations and very many deaths if we relax too quickly."
It comes after England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty yesterday gave a similar warning – and said that no matter what happens, scientists believe there will be yet another wave.
Speaking at a hearing of the Science and Technology Committee, he said projections show more will die – as a "significant minority" will fall ill even if fully vaccinated.
"Because this is such a common virus against large numbers of people, even if a relatively small proportion of people are still remaining vulnerable, that still equates to very large number overall," he said.
And in bleak news for Brits desperate to return to normality, he said: "As things open up we will get a surge in the virus.
"Whether that happens, we hope not soon, but it might happen later in summer if we open gradually.
"All modelling suggests a further surge that will find people either not vaccinated or where the vaccine has not worked."
Elsewhere today, the Prime Minister has defended the Test and Trace system, which could end up costing the taxpayer £37billion, after MPs said there was "no clear evidence" it cut coronavirus infections.
During Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson backed the programme, telling MPs: "It's thanks to NHS Test and Trace that we're able to send kids back to school and begin cautiously and irreversibly to reopen our economy and restart our lives."
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Health Secretary Matt Hancock also backed the system in interviews.
But former chief scientific officer Sir David King blasted the Government over the system in an interview on Sky this morning.
He said: "An expenditure of £23bn, and we didn't manage to prevent the second wave and third wave, and those two waves together have taken more than 70,000 lives, and we've now got cases of long Covid extending to possibly one million people in this country."
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