The number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in England is down 17% and is at its lowest level since the week to 23 December, new Test and Trace figures show.
A total of 274,898 people tested positive for coronavirus at least once in the week to 20 January, following a decrease the previous week.
Some 2,813,445 people were tested at least once between 14 January and 20 January – that figure is down 5% on week before.
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The stats show that 470,950 people were identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive in that period.
For those where communication details were available, 96.5% of close contacts were reached and told to self-isolate in the most recent week. Taking into account all contacts identified, 93.2% were reached – the highest ever figure.
Health minister Lord Bethell also said turnaround times for tests “have improved consistently since the start of the year”, and are now back to the levels seen at the beginning of December.
And people are travelling shorter distanced to testing sites, as more are set up.
The median distance travelled for a test was just 2.1 miles, the lowest since Test and Trace was launched.
But it comes just days after more than 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in total across the UK since the pandemic began.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, has said the country could now be at the plateau of cases and deaths.
But he cautioned at a Downing Street news conference on Wednesday that pockets of areas have yet to hit their peak, and are still seeing numbers rise.
Lockdown was ordered across almost all of the UK at the start of 2021 as infections and fatalities hit record high levels, in a bid to avoid the NHS being overwhelmed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that on 22 February he will lay out a roadmap for removing some restrictions, with schools able to open from 8 March at the absolute earliest.
Over three nights Sky News will host a series of special programmes examining the UK’s response to the pandemic.
Watch COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February
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