Researchers are unclear what is causing the dramatic drop, but say it may be a combination of the school holidays, the good weather and the drop in social contact after the end of the Euro 2020 football tournament.
In a comment on the figures, dr. Alasdair Munro, a pediatric registrar at University Hospital Southampton: “The cases are falling absolutely massively, certainly not because of minor tests, as the positivity of the test is also falling. But you cut this, it’s bloody brilliant news.”
Despite the decline in infections, hospitalizations and deaths are expected to continue to rise over the next two weeks. About 5,055 patients were hospitalized with Covid in the UK on Monday, a 33 per cent increase from the previous week and the highest number since March 18.
Deaths continue to rise, with 131 reported Tuesday. However, the number of people who actually die on any given day has not yet risen above 76 in the third wave – well below the previous peak, when 1,359 people died on 19 January.
Boris Johnson warned against drawing “premature conclusions” and said the easing of restrictions on July 19 may not be reflected in the figures.
During a visit to Surrey Police HQ in Guildford, he said: “Step four of the opening took place only a few days ago – people have to remain very careful and that remains the government’s approach.”
Researchers say that weekly data on infection tests from the Office of National Statistics on Friday will give a better indication of whether the prevalence is really falling.
Prof Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, said: “While this drop in the number of cases is good news, it has come as a bit of a surprise. On the plus side, there is no doubt that hot weather has contributed – more mixture outdoors, and the virus does not like the sun – just like the growing number of people who are fully vaccinated.
“But are these case numbers an accurate reflection of infection levels in the community? It will be interesting to see what happens to case numbers over the next week to ten days as we begin to see the impact of lifting the restrictions on July 19 and the new daily test pilot scheme for key employees begins. “