Tuesday saw the lowest daily number of recorded coronavirus cases of the year so far.
While the figure of 20,089 lab-confirmed cases is still high, it is less than a third of the highest daily total this month – a staggering 68,053 reported on 8 January.
Across the country, infection number are falling in a sign the latest national lockdown is having an effect despite the higher transmissibility of the new variant of the virus.
These most recent figures are for the seven-day rolling average up to January 24, and the decrease is a comparison with the seven-day rolling average to the previous day.
The data, from NHS Digital, show case numbers are falling in every region of England.
- London -34% (435.0)
- South East -31% (327.2)
- East England -29% (355.9)
- West Midlands -26% (415.8)
- North West -25% (372.6)
- North East -16% (280.4)
- East Midlands -14% (280.4)
- Yorkshire and The Humber -10% (230.2)
Outside of London and at a more localised level, these are the areas where cases have dropped the most.
- Thurrock -46% (406.7)
- Isle of Wight -40% (366.8)
- Brighton and Hove -39% (275.7)
- York -38% (251.6)
- Wirral -37% (457.7)
- Plymouth -37% (207.6)
- Shropshire -37% (279.8)
- North Yorkshire -36% (195.9)
- Surrey -35% (311.1)
- Bath and North Shropshire. -35% (226.1)
- West Sussex -35% (322.3)
- Liverpool -35% (506.2)
- Southend-on-Sea -34% (404.1)
- North Somerset -34% (235.3)
- Sefton -34% (491.7)
- Suffolk -35% (254.9)
- Essex -14% (385.4)
- Devon -34% (114.7)
- Gateshead -33% (199.9)
- Slough -33% (659.4)
There is a caveat to the encouraging figures – the large falls are from incredibly high numbers.
Knowsley for example, has the highest infection rate with 763.3 per 100,000 population and just over two weeks ago, this figure was 1,400.6 per 100,000.
For context, the government’s own threshold for quarantining overseas travellers is 20 cases per 100,000 people.
Not a single area of England is below this figure. North East Lincolnshire has the lowest number, 95.3 per 100,000.
There are still some areas where cases are rising, though only five out of the 151 listed on the NHS Digital website.
- Wakefield 9% (250.4)
- Bradford 6% (292.3)
- Barnsley 5% (259.7)
- North Tyneside 3% (209.7)
- Calderdale 1% (216.6)
Despite the falling infection rates, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty on Tuesday braced the country for “a lot more deaths over the next few weeks before the effects of the vaccines begin to be felt” and cautioned against relaxing restrictions “too early”.
Speaking at the same Downing Street press briefing, Boris Johnson said he was “deeply sorry” for every life lost and took “full responsibility” for the response to the pandemic.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the milestone was a “national tragedy” and accused the government of being “behind the curve at every stage” in its response to the pandemic, ahead of grilling Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.