The number of covid cases has fallen for the fifth straight day and hospital admissions are at a halt. Even Professor Lockdown admitted today that Plan B restrictions will not be necessary if infections continue to fall.

The Department of Health reported that there were 39.842 positive test results in the country over the past 24 hours. This was down by 23.4 percentage points from the previous week.

And Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist who sits on SAGE, said Plan B — which would see the return of face masks and work from home guidance if the NHS becomes overwhelmed — ‘shouldn’t be necessary’ if cases keep dropping.

Meanwhile, hospital admissions rose by 0.3 per cent week-on-week to 962 and deaths jumped by 43.5 per cent to 165. Both measures fall behind case numbers by a few week because of the time it takes for someone with the virus to become seriously ill.

Despite cases trending down and No10’s modellers projecting that there will be only 5,000 daily cases throughout the festive period, the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the UK is still in a ‘very uncertain phase’ of the pandemic and warned Plan B should not be taken off the table.

And former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today ministers should not be afraid of ‘U-turning’ and acting more ‘decisively and earlier’ than they want to with Covid restrictions.

In the meantime Today, Britain’s symptom tracking study warned that it is now ‘worryingly close to’ 100,000 cases per day. Government testing is also underestimating the crisis. 

It found that there were 92 953 new infections per day in the last week, an increase 14 percent from the previous seven days. It does not include the latest four days of infection across the country. 

No10 seems to have taken comfort in the fact that Covid infections have fallen for five consecutive days. SAGE forecasts suggest that the epidemic will decrease naturally next month as a result of rising immunity in children, booster vaccines, and other factors such as increasing immunity.  

Ministers insist they will only move to Plan B when the NHS is under ‘unsustainable’ strain, with one senior source saying yesterday that there was a less than 20%’ chance they will need curbs back.

Boris Johnson has so far steered clear of bringing in his winter plan, saying the NHS is not under 'unsustainable' pressure

Boris Johnson has sofar steered clear from bringing in his winter plans, saying that the NHS isn’t under ‘unsustainable pressure’

Official data showed England recorded 33,903 new infections, 2,153 cases were confirmed in Scotland, while 2,664 were spotted in Wales and 1,122 in Northern Ireland. The trend in cases seems to be downwards across all four countries.

The 52,009 most recent cases of infection reached their peak on Thursday.  

Since the pandemic started, there have been 8.9 million positive test results in the UK. The real number of infections is much higher due to limited testing capabilities at the beginning of the crisis. Not everyone who catches the virus will be able to undergo a test.

The number of Covid-infected patients admitted to hospital seems to be declining. Some 962 sought NHS care on Sunday — the most recent day the data is available for — a rise of 0.3 per cent on the 959 patients admitted last week.

In the meantime, 165 people died within 28-days of being tested positive for the virus. This is an increase of 43.5 percent from the 115 deaths that were recorded the same week.

The UK saw 44,082 first shots and 21,577 second shots administered. This means that 49.5 million people over-12s (or 86.7%) had received at least one injection. And that 45.6 million (or 77.3%) were fully immunized.

The total number of booster jabs received by 6.9 million people is now at 289,514 Top-up injections and first jabs to 12- to 15-year olds are key components of the Government’s Plan B to reduce infection rates.

It comes as Professor Ferguson told a press briefing there is no apparent growth in case numbers and rules to slow the spread of the virus may not need to be brought in.

He said: ‘At the moment we don’t actually have any growth in case numbers but we have continued growth in hospitalisations, but at a relatively slow rate.

“At its core, it’s a political decision as to what the NHS can handle, but we are not in the same place we were last year with rapidly increasing hospitalisations.

“So in some way, there is time to see if the apparent drops now being seen in case number are sustained, in which event such measures shouldn’t need to be taken.”

He warned that Britain would need to wait for three weeks to see if cases have peaked. This is because half-term children are not routinely tested at school.

And Professor Ferguson, an epidemiologist who sits on SAGE , said Plan B — which would see the return of face masks and work from home guidance if the NHS becomes overwhelmed — 'shouldn't be necessary' if cases keep dropping.

And Professor Ferguson, an epidemiologist who sits on SAGE , said Plan B — which would see the return of face masks and work from home guidance if the NHS becomes overwhelmed — ‘shouldn’t be necessary’ if cases keep dropping. 

Professor Ferguson stated that there are encouraging signs regarding the decline in case numbers.

‘If it isn’t peaking now then most of the modelling, Sage modelling out there, would suggest it should peak so long as we keep getting boosters into people’s arms and achieve a reasonably high – 90 per cent or so coverage – of boosters.

“Then, we should begin to see a sustained decrease in the coming week, but there is still a lot of uncertainty with the modelling.” 

Sir Patrick said today that the UK is still in a “very uncertain phase” of the pandemic despite the fact that cases have fallen for the last five years. Days, and warned Plan B not to be removed from the table yet.

Sir Patrick warned against complacency on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You absolutely need to be prepared [for Plan B]As soon as you think about it, “Am I, or Am I Not Going to Do This?” It seems close.

“That’s the time to push past your natural reluctance and do it. This is something the Government will have a hard look at, but we need be ready to act quickly if necessary. 

“I think we are at a very uncertain point. You can see that there is a lot of uncertainty about the direction this is heading in the SAGE minutes published last week. 

“It does depend on the level of immunity and the amount that is protected by vaccines. That’s why vaccines have such an important role and it also depends on overall behavioral change.

He said, “It is wrong to consider the building up of immunity as an all or nothing situation.” It is a protective barrier which will reduce the spread. Therefore, we need to closely monitor this over the next weeks.

Sir Patrick was asked what figures would convince him to call for more restrictions. He replied: “In terms of cases the best indicator is the ONS study, which is an impartial sample. 

“That has fewer biases that some of the testing data, and it’s an important one.

“In terms, consequences, hospitalisation, and the rates of people being admitted to hospital, are really important, but there are lagging indicator so you should keep that in your mind. 

Pictured above is the PM's winter plan. Boris Johnson has so far avoided imposing harsher measures in the country

Sir Patrick Vallance (pictured today on BBC Breakfast) said more restrictions should be imposed at the first sign of trouble

Sir Patrick Vallance (pictured right today on BBC Breakfast) stated that the Prime Minister should be ready for ‘hard and fast’ action if Covid cases start to rebound 

LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE: These charts show the impact of returning to normal level of social mixing in three months (bottom) versus remaining cautious for a year - and the impact this would have on infections (left), admissions (middle) and deaths (right). The models show cases plummeting by November in both scenarios thanks to natural immunity but rising in spring (bottom) when vaccine protection is expected to wane

LONDON SCHOOL of HYGIENE and TROPICAL MEDICINE: These charts compare the effects of returning to a normal level of social interaction in three months (bottom), and remaining cautious for a full year (right). They also show the impact on infections (left), admissions and deaths (middle) The models show that cases fall in November due to natural immunity, but rise in spring (bottom), when vaccine protection is expected wane.

He said in a separate interview on BBC Breakfast that “Nobody is really sure which direction this is going in but they are clear about two major variables that could change that.”

One is waning immunity. If immunity deteriorates faster than expected, you will see a greater increase. That’s why it’s so important that booster shots are given to the elderly and vulnerable.

‘The second is the behavioural change, how quickly we return to pre-pandemic behaviours… if you aggregate the models, most are saying: ‘Actually, it looks fairly flat, don’t expect the very big peaks we’ve had in the past, it looks fairly flat, but at a very high level at the moment’.’

“So the high-level remains a concern, and from a higher level you can move up quite quickly.

When asked if he thought current infection levels of more than 40,000 per day were acceptable, he replied: “Well, that’s a social question.

Study warns that Britain is “worryingly close” to 100,000 cases per day

Britain is ‘worryingly near’ 100,000 new Covid infections daily, according to Britain’s largest symptom tracking study. This is despite Government data showing that the epidemic is declining.

Researchers at King’s College London estimated that there were 92,953 people who fell ill with the virus per person in the UK last week. This is an increase of 14 percent over the previous seven days.

The number of cases is increasing in all age groups. However, the proportion of cases in under-18s is highest with nearly 44,000 infected every day.

The researchers also noted an increase in the rate of growth in the vulnerable age groups 55-75.

The latest survey data were based on approximately 43,000 PCR and side flow tests performed between October 9th and October 23rd.

They include the period in which official data indicates that Covid cases decreased slightly among the under-18s, but not those four days when daily Covid instances began to decline week-on–week. 

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist, is leading the study. He warned that the Government’s figures are a ‘big underestimate’, and may have missed 40% of cases.

The Department of Health’s daily reports only include cases confirmed by a PCR test — which are more reliable than lateral flow devices. They showed new infections fell for the fourth day in a row yesterday, dropping 10.6 per cent to 43,941.

Professor John Edmunds of SAGE, who in July had predicted that hospitalisations would reach 3,500 per day, said that the drop in cases could have been due to rising immunity in children.

These low numbers have led to Government sources claiming that less than 20% of ministers will activate their winter Covid Plan B’.

“There are high levels and those high levels translate into hospitalisations, but vaccinations have a significant impact on hospitalizations.

‘The lower levels are better for overall outcomes, but there are costs as well as consequences to making decisions in either direction.

“So that’s a social question about acceptable levels.

‘I will say though – and it’s an important point to make – that, as this infection becomes gradually becomes endemic, it will occur year on year, we will see this circulating every winter, I suspect, in particular.

“And so, gradually, as immunity increases, the protection will exist, the consequences are reduced, but it’s not yet.

“We still have people going to hospital, it’s still an important risk.”

Sky News interviewed him and he said that even though the country has an ‘armamentarium” to fight the virus, such antivirals and vaccines, the virus is still very real.

He stated that it has not disappeared across the globe, but that there are still very high levels all over the world. The UK has high levels, but we are more protected from it. 

“So, keep the protection high, keep the immunity high, and hopefully drive the levels lower.”

Sir Patrick warned last month, that Johnson should impose more restrictions than necessary for a longer time than he believes is necessary to stop the spread of the virus. 

He has yet to call on the country to change its course and implement Plan B. Despite increasing calls from some corners for this move, Britain’s scientific advisors still believe that stronger curbs are necessary.

Mr Hunt, the current chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee stated that the Government should not fear ‘Uturning’ and be more decisive and early than they want to.

Speaking about Plan B at a Royal Society of Medicine conference, he suggested Mr Johnson should act earlier than he might want to. 

He stated that he believed we should be ready to explore different approaches to tackling the virus. I’ve always said in a pandemic you should welcome a government that changes its mind, not chastise it for U-turning. 

‘It’s always better to act decisively and earlier than you want to.’

However, he did not call for an immediate imposition or restriction. He suggested that the best way to reach the ‘heart” of Britain’s current wave is to increase the speed of vaccine programmes and boosters.

It came as a King’s College London study warned that Britain was ‘worryingly near’ 100,000 cases per day last week.

It was also found that cases were rising across all ages, though the proportion infected by HIV remained highest among under-18s (with nearly 44,000 people infected each day).

A sharp uptick was also observed in 55-75-year-olds. This is the most vulnerable group, and they are currently being given booster shots to increase their immunity before winter. 

The latest survey data were based on approximately 43,000 PCR and side flow tests performed between October 9th and October 23rd.

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist, is leading the study. He warned that the Government’s figures are a ‘big underestimate’, and may have missed 40% of cases.

He stated that ZOE data showed that the UK could have 100,000 new cases earlier than expected, with no sign of a plan B or plan C.

‘The ZOE numbers are consistently higher than official confirmed daily cases because they get results from multiple sources, including self-reported bilateral flow tests that are not officially reported. 

King's College London researchers estimated there were 92,953 people falling ill with the virus on average across the UK last week, up 14 per cent on the previous seven days. The above graph shows the proportion of cases among everyone (blue line) and the fully vaccinated (red line). ZOE has stopped calculating cases among the unvaccinated because there are so few left in the UK, with more than nine in ten adults having already got at least one dose

King’s College London researchers have estimated that there were 92.953 people infected with the virus last week across the UK. This is 14 percent more than the seven-day average. The above graph shows both the total number of cases for everyone (blue line), and those who have been fully vaccinated. ZOE has stopped counting the cases of the unvaccinated in the UK as there are very few remaining. More than nine out of ten adults have received at least one dose.

Their estimates showed Covid cases rose in all age groups. But there are early signs of a potential levelling off among children, in line with official estimates

According to their estimates, Covid cases rose across all age groups. Official estimates show that there are early signs of a possible levelling off in children’s Covid cases.

Cases are high in all regions of England and highest in the North West (purple line), where they are in excess of 2,000 per 100,000 people

All regions of England have high rates of cases, with the highest concentrations in the North West (purple-line), where there are more than 2,000 cases per 100,000. 

‘The Government raw numbers report on PCR testing for the classical symptoms only, which misses around 40% of cases.

‘ZOE extrapolates our data to predict daily infections in a larger population. 

“With the confirmation from the ONS’s fortnightly poll, it’s clear that the government figures were a huge under-estimate. And with the highest rates of Western Europe, there’s not room for complacency.

Boris Johnson WAS correct to release all Covid curbs during Freedom Day, Professor Lockdown states 

Neil Ferguson’s study has shown that the release of all Covid restrictions on Freedom Day could have saved hundreds of lives, despite public outcry.

The roadmap was also praised by Imperial College London researchers, who said that it was a ‘largely successful in limiting infection levels’.

They stated that No10 timed the easing in restrictions well, as the dates of each step allowed vaccines to reach the most vulnerable.

The study found that it was prudent to delay Freedom Day by nearly a month, from its original June 26 date due to the emergence of the Delta variant.

They found that this decision alone prevented at most 2,000 hospital admissions per night. This decision saved many lives.

Experts had previously criticised No10 as being ‘unscientific’ and argued that Boris Johnson lifted restrictions on July 19 too early.

However, scientists such as Professor Christ Whitty in England, the chief medical officer, believe that removing the summer curbs would reduce the winter wave’s sting by preventing infections.

Some scientists warn that ZOE figures should not be taken too seriously as vaccines have made Covid symptoms indistinguishable with other viruses.

There data covers the week before half-term — when official data suggests infections started to fall among under-18s — but it does not include the most recent four days when daily infections began to fall. 

No10 is believed to have taken this as a sign of hope. A Whitehall source said yesterday to the Financial Times that the situation was moving ‘in the right direction’ and added: ‘I think there’s less than 20% chance we’ll need Plan B.’

Another senior Government official cautioned against complacency because it was too early to read too much into the data. They acknowledged that there was no evidence to suggest that Plan B should be activated.

Yesterday’s ministers examined plans to give regional public healthcare leaders the power of bringing back face masks into school communal areas like corridors and assembly halls. This would help keep the virus at bay. 

It is unknown if children will be required to cover their faces again in the classroom, a policy that campaign groups claimed hampered their learning as well as caused them physical harm.

Although local councils already have the power in some areas to restore Covid curbs, the change could extend the powers to entire parts of England. The Department of Health refused to comment. 

Scientists suggested that cases would be reduced if there were a combination vaccine boosters, natural immunity in children, and less classroom mixing during the October halfterm break. 

Department of Health data indicates that Covid cases have peaked among schoolchildren, which is a positive indicator that they could soon fall in the other age groups to whom they are transmitting the virus.

Experts say it is more reliable as it accounts for reporting delays. 

Cases among 10 to 14-year-olds — the age group with the highest infection rate — may have peaked on October 19 at 1,925.2 positive tests per 100,000 people. 

The rates for 15 to 19-years-olds and five to 9-year-olds reached their highest on October 19, 861.3 and 750.7, respectively.

Official figures showed that the infection rate declined in these age groups over the next two-days. The infection rate for 10-14-year olds had fallen to 1,868.9 at the end of October 21.