Official figures show that the death toll from covids has dropped for the sixth consecutive week in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is despite Omicron still not triggering any increase in deaths. 

The Office for National Statistics today reported that the rate of deaths from the virus dropped by 20% over the last seven days, going down from 755 to 591. 

But just 501 of the victims were killed by the coronavirus — the smallest weekly toll since August, according to the surveillance report.   

Professor Raghib Ali of Cambridge is an epidemiologist. He said that the decline in deaths was good news. The ONS data provides a better picture of Omicron waves than Government dashboard data.

Government data showed deaths within 28 days of a positive date increased 486 per cent to 334 today — but the figures are skewed because of a backlog of fatalities logged into the system over the festive period. 

Omicron’s widespread presence will likely lead to an increase of deaths and incidental admissions according to Dr Ali.

Separate data from the ONS show England saw a record 3.3million people — one in 15 — infected with the virus on any given day in the week up to New Year’s Eve.

Experts fear record case numbers across the UK could cause unsustainable pressure on the NHS once they have had time to manifest as severe disease — despite a host of studies showing the super-mutant strain causes less intensive care admissions.

Covid deaths fell for the sixth week in a row in England and Wales last week, official data showed today. Graph shows: The overall number of people dying increased in the week up to Christmas Eve but Covid deaths (dark blue bars) fell over the seven days

Official data today showed that Covid deaths in England and Wales fell for six weeks in succession. This graph shows: Although the death rate increased from the week before Christmas Eve to a record high, it fell for the Covid (dark blue) over the next seven days.

As admissions rise in London, Adviser suggests that we could be seeing things change. 

Boris Johnson was supported by one of Britain’s top Covid modelers, who claimed that more restrictions will have no effect.

Mike Tildesley (Spi-M), a member and contributor to SAGE’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modifying group, stated, “We’re beginning to see things turn around.”

Although he claimed there were some measures that could have been taken before Christmas, he acknowledged restrictions may not be as effective now. But he did not rule out more restrictions if there is a recurrence. 

Dr Tildesley cited Omicron Hotspot London as an example of how Omicron will affect the rest the country. There, infections are already at a low level and admissions seem to have slowed down.

The latest data shows that there were only 347 admissions into the capital for New Year’s Day. This is a 7 percentage drop compared to previous weeks. This is the second consecutive day of admissions falling week-on-week.

This comes just after the Prime Minister said at a Downing Street press conferment last night that England has a chance to ride out Omicron waves without closing down our country, because they are milder than other strains.

While daily infections are running at record levels — 218,000 people tested positive yesterday — the number of Covid patients in hospital is still a fraction of previous peaks.

The number of Covid patients now stands at 15,000, compared with nearly 40,000 in January. About a third aren’t primarily afflicted by the virus. Ventilation is less common in those who are not primarily sick with the virus.

Overall, the ONS data indicates that there were 591 Covid deaths recorded during the week ending December 24, in England or Wales.

This is 22 percent less than the 755 that was recorded in the prior week and represents the lowest total since August 20, 2005 (570). 

ONS’s data only includes deaths up to December 24 so may not fully reflect the impact of Omicron cases — which took off in the UK in mid-December.

Dr Ali said: ‘Good news from ONS showing weekly Covid deaths to 24 December falling to their lowest level since August and 40 per cent below recent peak in November — reflecting the impact of boosters on deaths, mainly from Delta.’ 

He wrote on social media that Omicron is expected to cause an increase in incidental deaths in Government dashboard data in the next weeks, even though real fatalities are still low.

Dr Ali said that ONS has the best Covid data, based on death certificates. The Government dashboard displays any deaths within 28 calendar days after a positive test. 

‘There is now a gap between the two — 552 on ONS, 660 on dashboard — whereas [in the]Previous week, it was 755 ONS and 663 Dashboard.

‘This gap is likely to be bigger with Omicron as there is a much higher prevalence of infection in the community and therefore a higher percentage of deaths where the positive Covid test was “incidental” — did not contribute — to the cause of death than previous waves. 

“This issue is very similar to that of hospitalisations, and this trend is also evident for hospital deaths. This means daily dashboard figures are — and will not be — as a reliable guide to true picture in coming weeks.’

It comes after official data today showed cases in are now only going up in over-60s in London.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), statistics showing that infection rates in the area began to decline before Christmas gave hope that it was not the end.

The same dataset doesn’t reflect New Year’s Eve celebrations, but rates are still falling in the under-60s. The virus has not yet been detected in cases of the more-vulnerable over-60s.

Sir Chris Whitty said last night that it was premature to declare London’s crisis over. Because of this trajectory, hospital pressures are likely to increase in the weeks ahead. 

However, other experts expect the trend in over-60s to follow that of younger adults and begin falling in the next week or so, mirroring the trend in South Africa — the first country in the world to fall victim to the variant, where infections now appear to be in freefall.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show Covid cases in Omicron hotspot London are now only going up in people aged 60 and above. Graph shows: The case rate per 100,000 in people aged 60 and above (yellow line) and under-60 (red line). Cases have started to drop in under-60s, though the rate still remains above the more vulnerable older age groups

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show Covid cases in Omicron hotspot London are now only going up in people aged 60 and above. Graph showing: Case rate per 100,000 for people 60 years and older (yellow and red lines). The rate of cases has started to fall in those under 60, but it is still high for older people who are more at risk.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show confirmed infections have fallen week-on-week on seven of the eight days leading up to December 30 - the latest date regional data is available for - in people aged 59 or below. Graph shows: The week-on-week rate of growth in average cases in under-60s (red line) and people aged 60 and above (yellow line). Cases are falling in under-60s and the rate of growth is slowing in over-60s

UK Health Security Agency figures reveal that the number of confirmed infections has fallen on seven out of eight days prior to December 30th – the most recent date regional data is available – among people aged 59 years and below. Graph: Week-on-week growth rate in cases for under-60s and 60-year-olds. The rate of growth in the over-60s is slower and cases are declining in those under 60.

In England, a confirmation PCR will not be required for anyone who is symptomatic. 

To reduce the need for follow-up tests, PCRs were scrapped from patients suffering from asymptomatic Covid who have tested positive for lateral flows.

All previous guidance regarding positive rapid lab tests and more precise laboratory results has been removed effective January 11.

The announcement of the temporary changes was made amid record-breaking case numbers and unrivalled demand for testing.   

The change will require people with positive results on the lateral flow devices (LFDs) to self-isolate for seven days immediately, and without further confirmation by PCR.

The UK Health Security Agency said the ‘vast majority’ of people with a positive LFD result can be confident they have the virus because case rates are so high. The agency estimates that one in three people will have false positives.

This is despite just 1.5million LFD test being performed in the UK daily. It could mean that thousands of people without Covid will be forced to isolate.

MailOnline was informed by Professor David Livermore of the University of East Anglia. He said that the holiday period saw an increase in infection rates due to reporting delays and less testing.

He stated that the “rate at which the under-60s are falling” had reached its peak and was now convincingly declining.

‘This pattern of a short sharp peak is what you would expect from Omicron’s increased transmissibility [and]This is also in line with South African experiences.

The growth rate suggests that there is a slowing in the incidence of infections among older persons. 

Professor Livermore stated that he expected a similar peak to drop-off, within a week, for the older 60s.

A separate ONS report today revealed that 1 in 10 Londoners was estimated to have Covid by midnight on New Years Eve. But, statisticians indicated there were “early indications” that infection had reached its peak in London. Omicron has hit the hardest. 

Because it relies on random sampling from around 100,000 individuals, the ONS weekly infection survey can be considered the best indicator of UK outbreaks.  

The report, used by ministers to guide Covid policy, is normally published on Friday — but its release was moved while infections run at unprecedented levels.

Today’s findings show that around one in 20 people had the virus by New Year’s Eve in Wales and Scotland, both up from one in 40. 

Northern Ireland’s prevalence rate has gone up from one in forty to one in 25, 

An estimated 3.7 million people from all four UK countries had Covid during the week that just ended.