Iain Dale 7pm - 10pm
Covid-19 wards stand empty as deaths plummet by 99% since pandemic peak
9 August 2020, 20:00
Covid-19 deaths in the UK have dropped by nearly 99% since April 10 with one top doctor suggesting that Britain is “almost reaching herd immunity”.
On that day there were 866 Covid-related deaths, compared to just five on August 6 but now some coronavirus wards are standing empty.
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has also plummeted by 96 per cent since the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official data.
At the peak of the pandemic, there were 17,000 Covid patients in hospitals whereas now there are currently 1,067.
The news comes a month after the lockdown was eased. The majority of patients require hospitalisation within 15 days of infection.
Intensive care consultant Dr Ron Daniels in Birmingham - which is one of the worst-hit areas in the country - said there has been a huge downturn in admissions.
He added: "Compare that to where we were a couple of months ago, when we had almost 200 patients ventilated at any one given time, and this is a huge downturn."
Dr Daniels also said there is cause to believe the figures suggest we are "almost reaching herd immunity".
His view is supported by research Oxford University epidemiologist Professor Sunetra Gupta that suggests the UK may have achieved a sufficient level of herd immunity to prevent a second wave.
Chief executive of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens has urged hospitals to tackle as much of the waiting list as possible between now and winter since virus admissions are falling rapidly.
In a letter to NHS regional directors, he wrote: "Having pulled out all the stops to treat Covid patients over the last few months, our health services now need to redouble their focus on the needs of all other patients too.”
Public Health Wales said no further deaths have been recorded where people died after testing positive for Covid-19, so the total number of deaths in the country remains at 1,579.
The number of cases in Wales increased by 26, bringing the total confirmed to 17,451.
As of Augst 8, Scotland has also recorded no deaths in the country for three weeks.
The Government said 46,574 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, as of 5pm on Saturday, up by eight from the day before.
Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies show there have now been 56,600 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The Government also said that in the 24-hour period up to 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 1,062 lab-confirmed cases. Overall, a total of 310,825 cases have been confirmed.
The region with the highest number of deaths was the Midlands with four.
There were three deaths in the North East & Yorkshire, two in the East of England and one in London.
There were no deaths reported in the North West, where local lockdown measures in place in Greater Manchester and parts of east Lancashire were extended on Friday to include Preston.
The news comes as Boris Johnson has been urged to boost coronavirus testing and tracing in order to safely reopen schools to all pupils without needing to impose further restrictions on businesses or social lives.
The Prime Minister said it is the "national priority" to get children back in class in England next month, but he has been warned by scientific advisers that "trade-offs" may be necessary to keep transmission down.