Covid deaths in England and Wales fall to lowest level in six months

Deaths from coronavirus are at their lowest level in six months, new figures show.

A total of 719 Covid fatalities were registered in England and Wales in the week ending 26 March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is down 25 per cent on the previous week’s total, and is the lowest number since 16 October.

Around one in 14 of all deaths in the week to 26 March mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, the ONS added.

Some 10,045 deaths were registered over this timeframe – five per cent below the average for the corresponding period in 2015-19.

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This is the third consecutive week that total weekly deaths in England and Wales have been below the five-year average.

The ONS figures comes as researchers from Imperial College London found that the prevalence of cases in England dropped by around 60 per cent from February to March, with recent data suggesting the decline is “levelling off”.

Experts said the rate of infection fell in all age groups and regions across those two months, with figures also indicating that the vaccine rollout could be “breaking the link” between infections, deaths and hospital admissions.

According to the latest round of Imperial’s React study, one in 500 people were carrying the virus in March.

Researchers found there have been “big falls” in prevalence of the virus in the South East and London from February to March, but “persistent areas of higher prevalence” of the virus remain in the southern part of Yorkshire, and parts of the East Midlands and the North West.

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To date, more than 1.5 million people have provided swabs to the React-1 study so experts can assess infection rates across the country.

The 10th round of tests was conducted between 11 and 30 March, with 140,844 swabs collected, returning 227 positive results.

This is compared with 689 positive results out of 165,456 swabs from 4 to 23 February.

Comparing infections and death and hospital admissions, researchers observed “fewer deaths per infection” than they would have expected based on recent prior months of the study.

Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London, said: “We see some divergence between our observed patterns of infection and patterns of death since January, which we think probably suggests that the mass vaccination is breaking that link to some degree between infections and deaths.”

He added: “We’re observing fewer deaths per infection than we would have expected based on the recent prior months of the study.”

“To a lesser extent, we’re seeing fewer hospitalisations per infection as well.”



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