Britain today recorded fewer than 1,000 Covid-19 cases for the first time in a week after 713 more Britons tested positive for the life-threatening disease.
Department of Health figures show it is the lowest daily infection toll in almost a fortnight, since 670 new cases of coronavirus were announced on August 4.
It means 1,080 cases are being diagnosed each day, on average. The figure has been steadily rising since mid-July amid mounting fears of a second wave.
But top experts have dismissed concerns that Britain is about to be hit by another crisis, saying the spike is merely down to more targeted testing in hotspots such as the North West.
The UK today also recorded just three more laboratory-confirmed coronavirus deaths, meaning 10 infected Britons are now succumbing to the illness each day, on average.
By contrast, five fatalities were declared yesterday across Britain and 18 last Monday. The official death toll, which only takes into account victims who have died within 28 days of testing positive, now stands at 41,369.
In other coronavirus developments in Britain today:
The most up-to-date government death toll — released this afternoon — stands at 41,369. It takes into account victims who have died within 28 days of testing positive.
Ministers last week scrapped the original fatality count because of concerns it was inaccurate due to it not having a time cut-off, meaning no-one could ever technically recover in England.
More than 5,000 deaths were knocked off the original toll. The rolling average number of daily coronavirus deaths dropped drastically.
Before the original count was scrapped, around 59 deaths were being declared each day. It now stands at just 13. But few changes were made to tallies declared during the brunt of the crisis in April.
The deaths data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.
And the figure does not always match updates provided by the home nations. Department of Health officials work off a different time cut-off, meaning daily updates from Scotland and Northern Ireland are out of sync.
The count announced by NHS England every afternoon, which only takes into account deaths in hospitals, does not match up with the DH figures because they work off a different recording system.
For instance, some deaths announced by NHS England bosses will have already been counted by the Department of Health, which records fatalities ‘as soon as they are available’.
Department of Health officials also declare new Covid-19 cases every afternoon. Yesterday they revealed another 1,040 Brits had tested positive for the life-threatening disease.
It meant Britain had recorded more than 1,000 cases for six days in a row for the first time since the outbreak started to slow down at the end of June. But the 713 new cases today ended the six-day spell.
Fears that the virus is rebounding have grown over the past month, prompting Boris Johnson to ‘squeeze the brake pedal’ last month and delay the re-opening of parts of the economy by a fortnight.
But top experts have dismissed concerns that Britain is being struck by a second wave, saying the spike is merely down to more targeted testing in hotspots such as the North West.
Separate data — collected and released every week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) — also suggests the actual number of people getting infected isn’t rising.
The ONS believes 3,800 people catching the virus each day in the community in England, up slightly on the figure of 3,700 for the first week of August.
Government scientific advisers last week revealed Britain’s coronavirus R rate remained between 0.8 and 1 for the UK and England overall — meaning it hadn’t changed in the past week.
SAGE also maintained that the outbreak is shrinking and cases are falling by between one and four per cent each day in its growth rate update, which it releases every Friday alongside the R rate estimate.
The data come as Britons holidaying in Greece and Croatia today faced a desperate scramble to get home as fears continue to grow that the European nations could be added to the quarantine ‘red list’ within days.
Greece has seen a significant rise in the number of new cases – from 202 last week to 226 yesterday – while Croatia has now gone above the UK’s quarantine benchmark of 20 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period.
Fears that the countries could be added to the quarantine list come as ministers desperately try to control the spread of the pandemic and a possible second wave.
It also comes amid mounting anger over the shambolic way the Government has handled travel rules during the pandemic.
Ministers are being urged to replace the disastrous 14-day quarantine system with a ‘game-changer’ virus test at airports, before more countries are put on the red list.
Other holiday destinations could also be added if – like Spain and France – they have a sudden second spike in infections that catches travellers unawares.
An estimated 500,000 raced to return home from France before the 4am Saturday deadline for quarantine that was announced barely 30 hours earlier.