DEATHS have fallen below the seasonal average for the first time in six months thanks to the Covid jab blitz.
Data from the Office for National Statistics show 10,987 fatalities were registered in England and Wales in the week ending March 12.
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It is 511 fewer deaths than the five-year average for this period.
Officials said it is the first time weekly mortality has been lower than typical since early September.
Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said: “The new ONS data on deaths is encouraging in suggesting the second devastating wave of the pandemic is behind us.
“The rapid decline in deaths we’ve thankfully seen is entirely because of the lockdown and the rapid roll-out of vaccines.”
ONS analysis also shows Covid deaths among the over-80s have fallen by 91 per cent since the second-wave peak.
And care home fatalities were just 300 over the week – down a third on the previous seven days.
Yesterday saw Covid deaths drop to their lowest level in almost six months with 17 fatalities recorded.
A further 5,342 infections were recorded, bringing the total to 4,301,925 since the start of the pandemic.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
The rise in fatalities is the lowest daily total since September 27, when 17 deaths were recorded.
And it is even lower than Sunday's total of 33 – previously the lowest in five months.
It brings the total to 126,172 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Today the country held a minute’s silence at midday on Britain's National Day of Reflection in remembrance of those who have died during the crisis.
Leading today's tributes, The Queen said: "As we look forward to a brighter future together, we pause to reflect on the grief and loss that continues to be felt by so many people and families, and pay tribute to the immeasurable service of those who have supported us all over the last year.”
Boris Johnson has warned the UK could soon "feel the effects" of the rise in infections across the Continent, after a string of countries were plunged back into lockdown last week.
France, Poland and Italy are among EU nations forced to reimpose restrictions amid soaring cases and a sluggish jab rollout.
Nonetheless, the PM promised to "bash on with the roadmap we set out" – with dates on the easing of lockdown unlikely to change despite Europe's third wave.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) urged the Government to take a cautious approach amid the surge in infections on the continent – but has not called for a change to Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, it was reported at the weekend.
Britain saw a huge rise in cases in late December amid the spread of the Kent variant, which now makes up a significant number of infections in Europe.
Brits have been warned not to book a foreign holiday this summer amid fears that they could prompt a fourth lockdown next winter.
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