Covid-19 case rates have dropped below the symbolic level of 50 cases per 100,000 people in more than three-quarters of all local areas in the UK, new analysis shows.
It is a sharp improvement from one month ago, when about four in 10 areas were reporting rates under 50 per 100,000.
Two months ago, just five out of 380 local areas had rates below 50 per 100,000.
The steep fall suggests the lockdowns in place across the country, combined with the continuing rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, are continuing to play a key role in reducing the number of new reported cases of coronavirus.
The analysis, which has been compiled by the PA news agency, shows that for the seven days to April 2, a total of 297 out of the 380 local authority areas in the UK, or 78%, recorded Covid-19 case rates below 50 per 100,000 people.
In England these ranged from 49.7 in Scarborough, to just 2.9 in Torridge in Devon.
All local areas in Wales are currently below 50 cases per 100,000 people, with Bridgend recording a rate of 8.2.
Two-thirds of areas in Scotland are also below 50, with both the Orkney Islands and the Western Isles recording no recent cases.
In Northern Ireland, eight of the 11 local authority areas are below 50, with Ards and North Down recording the lowest rates (27.2).
The highest rate anywhere in the UK is currently 258.1, for Clackmannanshire in Scotland.
At the peak of the second wave of cases, in the seven days to January 2, the highest rate in the UK was 1,634.1, in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham.
The current rate in Barking and Dagenham is just 38.0.
The steep downwards trend in the case rates for local areas is mirrored in the rates for the four UK nations, all of which have sunk to their lowest level since September last year.
Wales currently has the lowest rate among the four nations, with 22.7 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to April 2 – the lowest rate since the seven days to September 5.
England’s rate stands at 38.0, the lowest since September 17, while in Northern Ireland it is 41.6, the lowest since September 16.
In Scotland the rate is currently 51.3, the lowest since September 23.
All figures have been calculated by the PA news agency from the latest health agency data.