UK COVID-19 Update: Mortality and Infection Rates Fall

Peter Russell

April 22, 2021

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

COVID Deaths Continue to Decline

Latest figures for March showed that for the first time in 4 months, COVID-19 was not the leading cause of death in England and Wales.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed COVID was the third leading cause of death in both countries that month, accounting for 9.2% of all fatalities registered in England, and 6.3% in Wales.

The leading cause of death was dementia and Alzheimer's disease in England, accounting for 10.1% of all deaths, and ischaemic heart diseases in Wales, accounting for 11.8% of deaths.

Fewer People Test Positive

The number of new infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continued to shrink.

A total of 18,050 people tested positive for COVID-19 at least once in the week to April 14, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.

This was down 9% on the previous week.

Responding to the latest figures, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "We’ve arrived at a critical moment in the course of the pandemic. New variants pose the greatest threat to our efforts to control COVID-19 and the rising number of cases of the South African and Indian variants is a worrying development."

Meanwhile, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK appeared to have levelled off for those in both patient-facing and non-patient facing jobs, ONS figures showed.

That was despite an increase in the number of children and adults who reported contact with people outside their household during March.

Sarah Crofts, senior statistician for the COVID-19 Infection Survey, said: "It’s not surprising our data published today shows adults and school-age children are having more contact with people outside of their households. During the time we collected the data, schools have reopened, and we've taken the first steps out of lockdown, with fewer restrictions in place.

"It’s good news that infection rates in both patient-facing and non-patient-facing job roles have remained low since decreasing from the start of the year, but it’s critical that we continue to monitor COVID-19 infection levels in these roles as more restrictions ease."

Lockdown Alcohol Consumption Surged in Scotland

Almost half of people in Scotland who took part in a survey about alcohol consumption during the pandemic said they were drinking more than before.

It found that 49% of respondents said they had drunk more since the pandemic began, with 30% saying they did so to deal with stress and anxiety.

The survey also found that 33% of respondents had been concerned about their drinking habits during lockdown. However, the vast majority said they had never accessed support to help them with their drinking.

The survey involved 5339 people who responded to the online poll by drug, alcohol, and mental health charity We Are With You in October last year.

Andrew Horne from the charity said: "These are really tough times for everyone. Uncertainty and anxiety cloud our lives, while the necessary restrictions to control the virus have left lots of people socially isolated. It's no wonder many are drinking more as a way to cope."

Loneliness Hit Disabled People Disproportionately

Older people in England with physical disabilities were disproportionately at risk of emotional distress, poor quality of life, and poor wellbeing because of COVID-19, research found.

Researchers from University College London said people with physical disabilities were less likely to have partners, and more likely to live in smaller households where there was less contact with family and friends.

Moreover, social interaction via the internet or by phone did not make up for face-to-face meetings, they said.

The study, published in The Lancet Public Health, said the findings suggested that health and social care providers should attend to the emotional consequences of the pandemic for people with disabilities.

The longitudinal cohort study drew on data from people aged 52 and older in England.

More News

  • India recorded the highest one-day tally of new COVID-19 cases anywhere in the world, as well as the country's highest number of deaths over 24 hours. India has close to 16 million confirmed cases, second only to the US, the BBC reported. Dr Peter English, former chair of the BMA's Public Health Medicine Committee, described the situation as "very alarming".

  • Surge testing has been deployed in a targeted area within the Alum Rock and Glebe Farm and Tile Cross wards in Birmingham, where a confirmed case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant first identified in South Africa has been found. Initial investigations indicated that this case was not linked to a case previously identified in the Birmingham and Sandwell areas, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

  • Johnson & Johnson said it would resume shipping its COVID-19 vaccine to Europe after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said a warning about a possible connection to blood clots should be attached to the vaccine. The EMA said the vaccine's benefits "outweigh the risks of side effects," while the manufacturer said it strongly believed in the benefits of its single-shot vaccine.

  • The Brit Awards is set to go ahead on May 11 with a live audience, including 2500 tickets given free by ballot to frontline workers. The live show at the O2 Arena in London will form part of the Government's Events Research Programme, using enhanced testing approaches to examine how crowd fixtures might take place without the need for social distancing.

  • Maggie Keenan, who made history when she became the first person in the world to receive an approved COVID vaccine in December, encouraged people to have their second dose. During a Zoom call with NHS England chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, the 91 year old grandmother, who has now been fully vaccinated, thanked NHS staff for their hard work during the rollout.

See more global coronavirus updates in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

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