The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has been lowered as the risk of the NHS being overwhelmed by cases of the virus has receded, the government has announced.
The Chief Medical Officers and NHS Medical Director have agreed to reduce the alert level from 5 to 4 in light of recent data.
The news came in a joint statement from Professor Chris Whitty, Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical officer Dr Michael McBride, their Scottish counterpart Dr Gregor Smith and Welsh medical chief Dr Frank Atherton – along with NHS Director Professor Stephen Powis.
They said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.”
They added: “The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.
“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer.
“However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.
“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”
The alert level was raised to level five on January 4, the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the third national lockdown for England.
The UK’s coronavirus hospital death rate today rose by 311.
England has recorded 254 further deaths, Wales 21, Scotland 31 and Northern Ireland, five.
It marks a 75 drop on last week’s figures – when 386 hospital deaths were recorded across the UK.
Confirmed cases of coronavirus have plunged by more than 78% since the start of England’s lockdown, new figures show today.
Today’s figures follow the release of Test and Trace data showing 84,310 people tested positive for Covid-19 at least once in England in the week to February 17 – the lowest since September.
That was a 21% fall on the previous week – and down 78% from the peak of 390,366 cases in the first week of the year.
The five Covid alert levels are:
- Level five – a “material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed” – extremely strict social distancing
- Level four – a high or rising level of transmission – enforced social distancing
- Level three – the virus is in general circulation – social distancing relaxed
- Level two – the number of cases and transmission are low – minimal social distancing
- Level one – Covid-19 is no longer present in the UK – no social distancing