UK records highest reported coronavirus deaths figure of 1,564 –

The most recent figures show that, on Sunday, rolling seven-day admissions for London had dropped by 131 cases to 5,919 – the first decrease recorded since December 2.

Daily admissions in the capital appear to have peaked on January 7, when 524 people were taken to hospital with Covid, but fell to 473 by the weekend. In the South-East, 716 new admissions were recorded on January 6, but that dropped to 583 by Sunday, the most recent regional breakdown shows.  

The second wave began in the South-East, driven largely by a new variant of the virus which emerged in Kent and is believed to be 50 to 70 per cent more infectious.

Hospital admissions lag around a week behind a fall in infections, and death rates in London and the South-East should begin to fall within a fortnight if the trend continues.   Overall cases in Britain have also fallen by 7.2 per cent, with 29,139 fewer people testing positive than a week ago.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine, at the University of East Anglia, said: “Today is the second day in succession that the total number of cases in the most recent sevebn-day period was lower than in the preceding seven-day period.  

“For England, the most recent date on hospital admissions was January 10 and looking at just the English data it does appear that hospital admissions may have peaked on the January 6 and subsequently plateaued or even declined a little. Sadly, reported deaths are still increasing fairly rapidly. 

“If the recent trend is maintained this would be very good news for our NHS.”

Hospital admissions are still rising steadily in the North-East, the Midlands and the South-West, although there are the first signs of a slowdown in the North-West and the east of England. 

The number of people in hospital with Covid in London remains high, and has increased by 12 per cent in a week to 7,606.