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Falling number of coronavirus cases ‘highly reassuring’ – Professor

London mayor Sadiq Khan said while it was ‘good news’ infection rates were falling in the capital, he feared it could lead to ‘complacency’.

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All the coronavirus numbers currently look to be going in the right direction (Joe Giddens/PA)

All the coronavirus numbers currently look to be going in the right direction (Joe Giddens/PA)

All the coronavirus numbers currently look to be going in the right direction (Joe Giddens/PA)

A decrease in the number of new coronavirus cases, deaths and hospital admissions is “highly reassuring”, an expert has said.

There were 9,953 people in hospital in the UK with Covid-19 as of Tuesday May 19 – down from 11,429 on May 12, Government figures show.

The number of hospital deaths and new admissions with the disease in England has also continued to fall steadily since mid-April.

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Daily coronavirus tests in the UK (PA Graphics)

Daily coronavirus tests in the UK (PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

Daily coronavirus tests in the UK (PA Graphics)

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the centre for evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, said the rate at which the virus was disappearing in the UK appeared to be “speeding up”.

Referring to the available Government data, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday: “… You are seeing a trend here that all of the data is showing it is disappearing at a rate that is speeding up, which is highly reassuring.”

After a peak of 889 coronavirus hospital deaths in England on April 8, the daily total has not been higher than 600 since April 17, no higher than 400 since April 24, and no higher than 200 since May 8.

In London, the number of deaths peaked at 229 on April 4, but has not been higher than 50 since April 27 and dropped to seven on May 19 – however, this figure is likely to change.

While the midlands saw a lower peak with 185 deaths on April 8, its daily total – which is also in decline – has remained above the capital’s since April 23, according to data from NHS England.

Figures from Public Health England also suggest a drop in lab-confirmed cases in London, falling from 196 on May 1 to just two on May 19, although the latter figure could still increase.

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan said falling infection rates in the capital could lead to complacency (Rick Findler/PA)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said falling infection rates in the capital could lead to complacency (Rick Findler/PA)

PA

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said falling infection rates in the capital could lead to complacency (Rick Findler/PA)

As for new coronavirus cases in the UK, the numbers have also been slowly falling since the end of April, despite an increase in testing capacity over the same period.

Some 2,615 new cases were reported on May 20, down from 6,201 on May 1, according to figures from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

However there are still likely to be “many more” positive cases than have been recorded, the DHSC said.

The latest data from hospitals in England shows the estimated number of Covid-19 admissions has been in decline since April 2 when the figure peaked at 3,121.

The daily total for admissions has been no higher than 1,000 since May 2, and fell from 711 on May 11 to 637 on May 18.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said while it was “good news” that infection rates were falling in the capital,  he feared it could lead to “complacency”.

He told the Today programme on Thursday: “I’m still very cautious, the virus is still out there.

“But what this good news – and it is good news – gives us is a window of opportunity to begin the test, trace, isolate and support programme which we so desperately need.”

He added: “Because my fear is that this good news could lead to complacency, which could lead to a second wave that would overwhelm the NHS and be really bad for people’s lives, but also their livelihoods.”

PA