Covid cases in the UK are down 18 per cent week-on-week – but deaths have topped 200 in the last 24 hours.
Wednesday saw 30,597 infections and 201 fatalities, according to official statistics.
This means that, over the past seven days, the UK has suffered 222,405 cases – a drop of 50,070 from the previous week-long period.
But deaths are up over the same timeframe, by 4.4 per cent – a rise of 41.
Last Wednesday saw 38,975 cases, and 191 fatalities.
And, in comparison, a month ago saw 33,904 infections and 111 deaths.
The latest data comes the day after the Government announced its Covid winter plan.
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Wednesday saw 30,597 infections and 201 fatalities, according to official statistics
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said a surge in cases over the colder months could see people ordered to wear face masks and show passes to prove their vaccination status.
He added that the measures are part of a plan B if efforts to control the spread of Covid – including a massive booster vaccination programme – are not effective.
The contingency plans will only be activated if there is "unsustainable" pressure on the NHS in England, Mr Javid said.
As part of the plan A for autumn and winter:
– A booster vaccination campaign will begin next week for millions of people who received jabs in phase one of the rollout.
– Mr Javid said it is "highly likely" that frontline NHS staff and those in wider social care settings will need to have Covid-19 and flu vaccinations in order to be deployed, measures which are currently subject to consultation.
– People will be encouraged to meet outdoors or open windows if indoors, wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed settings, wash their hands frequently, and use the NHS Covid-19 app.
– Businesses are urged to consider using the Covid pass to check the vaccination or test status of customers.
Mr Javid told MPs: "The plan shows how we'll give this nation the best possible chance of living with Covid without the need for stringent social and economic restrictions."
The Government's Covid winter plan was announced on Tuesday
Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
But he added: "We have seen how quickly this virus can adapt and change so we have prepared a Plan B of contingency measures that we can call upon only if they are needed and supported by the data to prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS."
Those measures could include:
Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously.
– Introducing mandatory vaccine-only Covid-pass use in settings including nightclubs; indoor venues with 500 or more attendees likely to be in close proximity to others, such as music concerts; outdoor settings with 4,000 or more people, such as festivals; and any settings with 10,000 or more people, such as sports events.
– A legal requirement to wear face coverings in some settings.
– Advice to work from home.
Ministers shelved plans to introduce mandatory Covid passes by the end of September, but the possibility of them being used – along with mandatory face masks – risks a backbench revolt from Tory MPs.
In a press conference after the announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped that small changes would avoid the need for larger lockdowns.
But he warned that Covid is still a risk – which was echoed by England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Both experts said that winter was coming and strain on the NHS could prompt stricter measures being used – and the nation will have to adapt early and hard.
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