After weeks of declining deaths and hospitalisations, Britain’s Covid infection rates began to decline today according to official data.  

Department of Health bosses posted 47,240 new infections over the last 24 hours, up just 0.9 per cent on last Thursday’s figure of 46,807.

This was the seventh consecutive day of cases increasing, but it was also the first time that the percentage jumped below 1 since November 10.

Also, data showed that today’s positive Covid test result saw 147 deaths within the first 24 hours. That is down by more than 25% (26.1%) from last week’s 199.

Hospital admissions have been falling, with 745 being recorded as of Sunday (the latest available date). The previous Sunday’s figure was 6.8% higher. 

Experts think that Britain’s sudden surge in cases is due to children in school who are more susceptible to the virus than the declining deaths and hospitalizations.

Rates of infection have fallen in all over-60s over the last week, according to separate figures from the UK Health Security Agency released today. The agency’s weekly surveillance report showed cases rose in three quarters of England’s local authorities last week. 

The ZOE symptom tracking study, which was completed today, revealed that the rate of symptomsatic Covid cases rose nearly five percent last week. More than 76,000 Britons fell ill daily. 

Experts worry about the possibility of a vaccine resistant and ultra-infectious variant driving South Africa’s Covid surge despite promising figures in hospitalisations and deaths in Britain. This could lead to a surge in South Africa’s population and make it’very rapidly’.

Symptomatic Covid cases rose by nearly a fifth last week with more than 76,000 Britons falling ill each day, according to the ZOE symptom-tracking study

Last week, Symptomatic Covid cases increased by almost a fifth. There were more than 76,000 Britons who fell ill per day according to the ZOE study.

Map shows the increase in infection rates in local authorities across England in the week ending November 14
Map shows the increase in infection rates in local authorities across England in the week ending November 21

The UK Health Security Agency’s weekly surveillance report shows Covid infection levels grew in three quarters of England’s local authorities last week from the week ending November 14 (left) to last week (right)

South African super-mutant, ‘vaccine resistant’ Botswana Covid variety is driving surge 

Scientists warned that the new Covid variant is extremely infective and potentially resistant to vaccination and driving an increase in Covid in South Africa.

It has been reported in around 100 cases. The World Health Organization will convene an urgent meeting to examine the strain tomorrow.

South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla called the variant a’major threat’ and said it caused an ‘exponentially high’ number of new cases in his country.

Today, experts in Britain called on the government to impose a red travel ban to stop the strain from being planted in the country. Independent SAGE’s Professor Christina Pagel urged ministers “get ahead of it right now.”

After the first detection of this variant in neighboring Botswana in November 11, infections have risen tenfold in South Africa, from 100 per person to 1,100.

Tulio De Oliveira is a Director of Covid Surveillance in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal. He stated that the surveillance has been detected in almost every part of South Africa.

He admitted he was still ‘uncertain’ about the impact of the variant — which could be named ‘Nu’ by the WHO within days — on the country’s epidemic, with other scientists saying that it might be so evolved that it becomes unstable.

But Professor Oliveria explained the new variant has five times more mutations on a specific part of the spike protein than Delta — meaning it might be better at infecting vaccinated people than the world-dominant strain.

Here are some other developments in coronavirus today

  • Britons will be prohibited from traveling into the EU until they have been fully vaccinated for Covid. These new rules are being developed in Brussels. 
  • Pfizer’s vaccine was approved by the EU’s drug regulator for use in children under five years old;
  • According to data, less than 25% have been given the Covid vaccine in the UK. 
  • Experts say Novavax vaccine could prove to be more safe for children than any of the current UK jabs. 
  • After being paralysed and brain damaged by Covid, a grandmother in her 50s has won today’s latest phase of life-support treatment.
  • A vegan patient spoke of her upset after claiming she was left unwell in a Brighton hospital bed with nothing to eat but ginger nut biscuits.

Britain saw a slight rise in cases, bringing the total number who contracted the virus during the outbreak to 10million. 

Due to a lack of testing during the first months of 2020, and because people are not tested when they become symptomatic, the true number of those who have contracted the virus will likely be greater.

Based on the test results of around 750,000 volunteers, ZOE’s symptom-tracking survey estimated that approximately 76,728 people became ill in the week ended November 20. 

It marked a rise of 18 per cent compared to the estimate on the previous week and means one in 66 Britons suffered a symptomatic infection at any given time, King’s College London scientists who run the study said.

The study’s epidemiologist, Professor Tim Spector warned that cases are ‘too high’, and it was wrong to present the UK as an example of Covid success.  

The R rate — the average number of people an infected person will pass the virus onto — is estimated to be around 1.1 for the whole of the UK, but slightly lower in Scotland (1.0).

According to the KCL team, cases now are driven by unvaccinated people. There were 52,509 cases in the last week for those who weren’t jabbed or only had one dose.

Under-18s have the highest rates of infection, and many are not eligible to receive jabs. 

The main factor behind the rebound in overall numbers was the cases in children. 

Professor Spector stated that “Seeing new cases is very disheartening, and it is difficult to predict the future. But, I believe that the number of cases is too high. 

The ZOE study showed cases are highest in children aged under 18 (blue line), who are seeing more than 30,000 symptomatic infections per day. In contrast, people aged 75 and over (purple line) have the lowest level of illness, with less than 1,000 cases estimated in the age group each day

ZOE studied showed that children younger than 18 years old (blue line) have the highest number of cases. They are experiencing more than 30,000. Purple line, which is for people over 75, has the lowest incidence of illnesses, with only 1,000 new cases each day.

Covid was most prevalent in Yorkshire and the Humber (shown together with the North East in the above graph as the red line), where one in 56 people were infected per day during the week. It was followed by the East of England (one in 62, blue line) and the West Midlands (one in 63). London (orange line) had the lowest rate with just 8,813 cases estimated per day in the capital — a rate of one in 81 people.

Covid was highest in Yorkshire, the Humber and the North East (shown in the same graph as the North East as the redline), where 1 in 56 were infected during the week. The East of England was next (one out of 62, blue lines) and West Midlands (one out of 63). London (orange line) had the lowest rate with just 8,813 cases estimated per day in the capital — a rate of one in 81 people.

The UK Health Security Agency's (UKHSA) weekly surveillance report showed case rates were highest in children aged five to nine last week

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), case rates in last week’s weekly surveillance reports showed that children between five and nine years old were at their highest.

The report showed cases were rising highest in the South East and South West of England. Overall positive tests increased by eight per cent during the week

This report revealed that cases are rising in South East England, and South West England. Positive tests overall increased by 8 percent over the course of the week

Get your booster by December 11 and you’ll be ‘highly protected’ at Xmas 

If they wish to be fully protected from the virus by Christmas Day, eligible Britons will have two weeks to obtain a Covid booster.

The NHS has issued a plea to the roughly 7million — or three in 10 — eligible people who have yet to have the crucial third dose.

The UK’s real-world data suggests that Covid protects against becoming sick up to 90% within two weeks of the injection. Even higher immunity against death and hospitalization.

Officials explained that people will be protected against Covid if they get a boost before December 11.

All people over 40 are eligible for boosters, as long as they have not had their last dose in six months. However, people are able to book an appointment for the five-month anniversary.

The figures show that 23million people received a double dose of Covid vaccines by May 25, which was six months ago.

Current administration of 16,000,000 boosters suggests that 7million (or 30%) more are needed.

After the sudden increase in Covid cases over the past few weeks, UK officials are expecting a fairly normal Christmas.

Although we seem to be performing better than other European countries for case numbers, the UK still has high levels of hospital admissions, deaths and illnesses, which is cause for serious concern. 

‘Given the current overloading of our hospitals, now isn’t the time to portray the UK as a Covid success story, far from it. 

“Whilst children are driving the increase in cases, it would be wrong to focus on them for the near-term.”

He continued: ‘While the government is unlikely to enforce restrictions for Christmas, family gatherings will undoubtedly increase risk, especially for older and more vulnerable family members who haven’t yet had their third vaccine dose. 

We can save Christmas. The third vaccination is available to those eligible. It’s important that we take the shot now. 

Avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and consider the potential risks.

Children are less likely to suffer severe illness and death with Covid than older, more vulnerable adults — explaining the current trend in falling hospitalisations and fatalities over the past week in the Government’s own data. 

Admissions fell for the eighth day in a row to 722 on Saturday, the latest date data is available for — a fall of more than a third on the more than 1,000 daily hospitalisations recorded a month ago.

Death likewise fell yesterday to 149, down a quarter on the previous week and marking the fifth day in a row fatalities had fallen.  

ZOE’s study revealed that cases were highest among children under 18 years old, who see more than 3000 symptomatic infections each day.

People aged 75 years and older have the lowest levels of illness with less than 1000 cases per day.

Covid was prevalent most in Yorkshire and Humber. In Yorkshire, one-in-56 people contracted the disease per week.

The East of England was next (one per 62), and the West Midlands were the second (one per 63). London had the lowest rate with just 8,813 cases estimated per day in the capital — a rate of one in 81 people. 

Meanwhile the UKHSA data showed  the number of positive cases overall increased by eight per cent from 223,000 in the week ending November 14 to last week.