Covid: UK records another 1,280 deaths as cases rise by more than 55,000

15 January 2021, 10:10 | Updated: 15 January 2021, 16:22

A bus stops by a government coronavirus 'stay home, save lives' advert in central London
A bus stops by a government coronavirus 'stay home, save lives' advert in central London. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The UK has recorded another 1,280 coronavirus-related deaths and 55,761 more infections, the latest government figures show.

It comes after the country saw 1,248 more Covid deaths and 48,682 cases on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Britain's coronavirus R number moved from 1-1.4 to between 1.2 and 1.3 on Friday, according to the latest SAGE estimates.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

The scientists said: "There are some initial indications that areas that have had higher prevalence levels and been under tougher restrictions for a longer period of time (East of England, London, and South East) are experiencing a slight decline in the numbers of people infected.

Read more: UK bans arrivals from Brazil, Portugal and 14 other countries due to new Covid strain

"Regions such as the North West and South West continue to see infections rise, which is likely to reflect the spread of the new (UK) variant in these areas.

"The latest figures show that we need to remain vigilant to keep this virus under control, to protect the NHS and save lives.

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"We all need to play our part, and if everyone continues to follow the rules, we can expect to drive down the R number across the country."

Earlier on Friday, University of Cambridge researchers said the number of coronavirus infections across England are falling as a whole, with the R number below 1 in some regions.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) Biostatistics Unit Covid-19 Working Group said the current estimate of the daily number of new infections occurring across England is 60,200.

Read more: UK economy shrank by 2.6% in November after second national lockdown

The Cambridge researchers said regions with a current R rate below 1 are the East of England, London, the South East, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.

They say it is above 1 in the South West, North West, North East and East Midlands.

The team suggests the proportion of the population who have ever been infected could stand at 30% in London, 26% in the North West and 21% in the North East, dropping to 13% in the South East and 8% in the South West.

Boris Johnson says the risk of intensive care units being overwhelmed is "very substantial"

They added: "The growth rate for England is now estimated to be -0.02 per day. This means that, nationally, the number of infections is declining but with a high degree of regional variation.

"Infections are still increasing in the South West and North East, whilst plateauing in the West Midlands and East Midlands."

The team also predicts that the number of deaths occurring daily is likely to be between 518 and 860 on January 28.

It comes as Public Health England (PHE) released data on Wednesday showing infection rates had fallen in most regions of England across all age groups apart from the over-80s.

At the same time, however, the PHE surveillance report noted that there were more people being admitted to hospitals and intensive care units.

NHS England data shows that around one in five major hospital trusts in England had no spare adult critical care beds on January 10.

Elsewhere, the Zoe Covid Symptom Study UK Infection Survey from King's College London put the UK R rate at 0.9.

It said cases have also plateaued in most age groups.

Tim Spector, who is leading the study, said: "It's great to see case numbers falling in most regions but numbers are still worryingly high and hospitals will stay under pressure for some time yet.

"With such high numbers and growing evidence new strains are highly transmissible, things can still take a turn for the worse. We need numbers to keep falling before we make any changes to current restrictions."

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