UK records highest reported coronavirus deaths figure of 1,564

Britain recorded its highest reported coronavirus death figure on Wednesday, with a further 1,564 people added to official mortality figures.

The deaths are largely spread throughout the past week, with some going back into November. The UK has yet to hit the daily death levels seen in the first wave, when 1,072 people died on April 8. The worst day in the second wave so far has been January 7, when just under 850 people died.

Public Health England (PHE) said more people had now died in the second wave than the first, although it did not give figures or expand on which dates it was referring to.

However, this week the unofficial Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said that as of Tuesday 41,724 people have died since cases began to rise at the end of August, compared to 41,501 deaths in the first wave before August 31.

Research by the Press Association also suggested Britain may now have passed the 100,000 death mark. Government figures currently stand at 84,767.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, the medical director at PHE, said: "With each passing day, more and more people are tragically losing their lives to this terrible virus, and today we have reported the highest number of deaths on a single day since the pandemic began. 

"There have now been more deaths in the second wave than the first."

However, new data showed that hospital admissions for coronavirus have fallen in London and the South-East for the first time in a month amid hopes that Britain is starting to move past the peak of the second wave.

Daily growth in Covid-19 hospital admissions by region

The most recent figures show that, on Sunday, rolling seven-day admissions for London had dropped by 131 cases to 5,919 – the first decrease recorded since December 2.

Daily admissions in the capital appear to have peaked on January 7, when 524 people were taken to hospital with Covid, but fell to 473 by the weekend. In the South-East, 716 new admissions were recorded on January 6, but that dropped to 583 by Sunday, the most recent regional breakdown shows.  

The second wave began in the South-East, driven largely by a new variant of the virus which emerged in Kent and is believed to be 50 to 70 per cent more infectious.

Hospital admissions lag around a week behind a fall in infections, and death rates in London and the South-East should begin to fall within a fortnight if the trend continues.   Overall cases in Britain have also fallen by 7.2 per cent, with 29,139 fewer people testing positive than a week ago.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine, at the University of East Anglia, said: "Today is the second day in succession that the total number of cases in the most recent sevebn-day period was lower than in the preceding seven-day period.  

"For England, the most recent date on hospital admissions was January 10 and looking at just the English data it does appear that hospital admissions may have peaked on the January 6 and subsequently plateaued or even declined a little. Sadly, reported deaths are still increasing fairly rapidly. 

"If the recent trend is maintained this would be very good news for our NHS."

Hospital admissions are still rising steadily in the North-East, the Midlands and the South-West, although there are the first signs of a slowdown in the North-West and the east of England. 

The number of people in hospital with Covid in London remains high, and has increased by 12 per cent in a week to 7,606.

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