One in 90 people, or a total of 620,100, had the virus in the week to September 18, according to an Office for National Statistics infection survey. This was down from one in 80 and one in 70 in the previous two weeks. The estimated R number for England also dropped below the crucial threshold of one, as it stayed between 0.8 and 1.0 – down from 0.9 to 1.1 last week. The figure represents how many people each infected person will pass the virus to.
Scientists advising the Government said the number of infections is thought to be shrinking by between one and three percent daily.
The update came as grandmother Maggie Keenan, 91, who was the first in the world to get an approved jab last year, received her booster vaccine.
She was pictured hugging matron May Parsons, who administered her first dose last December at Coventry Hospital.
Maggie said the jab was “nothing to be frightened of”, adding: “It has protected me in my mind. I feel quite confident now going out to places.”
NHS worker May also got her booster. More than 350,000 people invited to come forward have already booked their dose.
Meanwhile, health leaders warned that NHS waiting lists will “get worse before they get better” this autumn.
NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said: “We know there were seven million fewer referrals for elective care during the Covid crisis than one would expect. It might sound strange, but we want waiting lists to grow in the short and medium-term because we need to find those people who may not have come forward.
“If people are not on waiting lists then their conditions could be getting worse, they could be ending up in emergency departments with diseases that have reached quite a late stage. This approach is the right one given it will help ensure we address the backlog in a fairer way.”
Mr Taylor said many “missing patients” were from marginalised and deprived backgrounds.