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Covid-19 Update

Volume 690: debated on Thursday 4 March 2021

The lockdown has reduced social contact and, as such, the numbers of covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and death rates have reduced significantly but continue to remain high across the country. As of 25 February, the weekly case rate for all ages in England is on average 97.1 per 100,000, and 65.2 per 100,000 for people aged 60 and over. Overall positivity for England is 4.3%, with rates continuing to remain higher than desired across the whole country. These figures remain high indicating that we are not yet ready to ease further restrictions immediately from an epidemiological perspective.

Data indicates that the number of patients in hospital with covid-19 across England has reduced to 10,765 and mechanical ventilation bed occupancy is 1,658 (as of 1 March). Sadly, between 15 February and 21 February there have been a total of 2,421 covid-19 related deaths in England, within 28 days of a positive covid-19 test. The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test has fallen and now reflect levels seen at the end of October. The coronavirus England briefing, 4 March 2021, is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-england-briefing-4-march-2021

The vaccine rollout continues to be a success for the UK. As of 2 March, over 20.4 million people across the UK have now received their first dose of a covid vaccine—equal to over a third of the adult population, and over 840,000 people have now received their second dose of a covid vaccine. Daily updates on vaccines doses are available here:

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/vaccinations

On 22 February, the Prime Minister announced a four-step roadmap to move England out of the current national lockdown. The Government will take a cautious approach to easing restrictions which is guided by data. The measures set out for 8 March prioritise the return of face-to-face education in schools and colleges.

The full roadmap publication can be found at the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963491/COVID-19_Response_-_Spring_2021.pdf

Progression to the next step of the roadmap will be guided by data, and not dates. There will be at least five weeks between the steps in the roadmap: four weeks for the data to show the impact of the previous easing; and one week’s notice for the public and businesses ahead of future changes.

Before taking each step, the Government will review the latest data on the impact of the previous step against four tests.

1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully

2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.

3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS

4. Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.

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