Coronavirus deaths in England and Wales are now at their lowest number since before the lockdown was imposed, new figures have shown.
Death registrations involving COVID-19 dropped to 139 in the week ending 14 August, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) report.
This was the lowest figure since the week ending 20 March – some 21 weeks ago and three days before Boris Johnson imposed the nationwide lockdown. That week, 103 deaths involving COVID-19 were registered.
The 139 deaths registered in the week ending 14 August also accounted for just 1.5% of deaths in England and Wales in that period.
By contrast, at the height of the pandemic in the week ending 17 April, 8,758 deaths involved coronavirus: accounting for 39.2% of all deaths.
However, the decreasing number of COVID death registrations must be viewed in the context of a slowly increasing number of new infections across the UK.
Since 9 August, daily new cases have regularly exceeded 1,000 a day. Up until this date, there hadn’t been more than 1,000 since 26 June.
Meanwhile, there were also fears on Friday that the UK's reproductive number (“R” rate) may have risen above 1.0.
Experts on the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) announced the R estimate across the UK was between 0.9 and 1.1, an increase from the range between 0.8 and 1.0 the week before.
If R is below 1.0, it means that on average, an infected person will infect fewer than one other person, meaning the number of new cases will fall over time. If it is above 1.0, it means the rate of infection is accelerating.