Covid-19 case rates have dropped below 50 cases per 100,000 people in more than 95% of local areas of the UK, new analysis shows. It is the first time since the start of September that as many as 19 in 20 areas have seen their rates plunge below such a symbolic level.
Around one in 10 areas are even recording rates in single figures.
It is almost a complete turnaround from how the data looked three months ago, when the second wave of coronavirus had just peaked.
In the week to January 24, only three of the 380 local areas in the UK, 1%, had Covid-19 rates below 50 cases per 100,000 people.
The latest figures, for the week to April 24, show the number is now 364 out of 380, or 96%.
The analysis, which has been compiled by the PA news agency from health agency data, is fresh evidence of the combined impact of lockdowns and Covid-19 vaccines in driving down the spread of coronavirus within the community.
In Wales every local area is now recording fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people, while in Scotland all but one local area, North Lanarkshire, has dropped below 50.
Northern Ireland has three of its 11 local areas above 50: Derry City & Strabane, Fermanagh & Omagh and Mid Ulster.
And in England only a dozen areas are still above 50, ranging from Selby on 109.2, the highest rate anywhere in the UK, to Slough on 53.5.
Three local areas, Maldon in Essex, Shetland and the Western Isles, are currently recording case rates of zero.
The proportion of areas with case rates below 50 per 100,000 people first hit 95% in the week to April 19.
Prior to this, the last time so many areas had rates below 50 per 100,000 was in the seven days to September 3, nearly eight months ago.
The sharp decline in Covid-19 case rates since January reflects the success of the lockdowns imposed across the UK just after Christmas, which helped limit the circulation of the virus as well as drive down levels of infection within the community.
Restrictions are now being eased in various parts of the country, though it is too soon to see any impact of this on case rates.
More recently, the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines has also played a role in reducing the number of new reported cases of coronavirus.
Research published last week by the Office for National Statistics and Oxford University found that Covid-19 infections “fell significantly” by 65% after a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, while two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offered similar levels of protection as a previous Covid-19 infection.
Vaccination was also found to be just as effective in individuals over 75 years or with underlying health conditions, as it was in those under 75 years or without health conditions
Nearly two-thirds of adults in the UK have now had a first dose of vaccine, while a quarter of adults have received both doses and are therefore fully vaccinated.
Published: 29/04/2021 by Radio NewsHub