The UK has announced no deaths from Covid-19 for the first time since July last year.
Official figures showed all four nations of the country recorded no new deaths on Tuesday within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test and 3,165 new cases of the virus. It means the official UK total number of deaths remains at 127,782, the first time the daily total has not risen since 30 July 2020.
But it will take some time before statisticians know for sure if anybody died with Covid on Tuesday. Deaths announced on a day have usually occurred earlier, and the total toll by date of death is calculated later on.
Reports of daily deaths are often lower at weekends and at the start of the week when statisticians are off, and given the bank holiday there could be more deaths announced later in the week that actually occurred on Tuesday.
Subsequent figures showed 10 people had died within 28 days of a positive Covid deaths on 30 July, and there has not been a day with no deaths recorded by date of death since 11 March 2020.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The government also said that as of 9am on Tuesday there had been a further 3,165 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
The announcement came as Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, paused plans to ease Covid restrictions in much of the country, saying Scotland was still at a “delicate and fragile point” in the battle with the virus. In an announcement she described as a “mixed bag”, she confirmed that restrictions in Glasgow, which had been the strictest in Scotland, would be relaxed, with the city moving to level 2 from Saturday.
Although the zero deaths milestone will be welcomed, it follows days of warnings from scientists that the UK appears to be in the early stages of a new wave of coronavirus infections fuelled by the Delta variant, first identified in India, with scientists and senior government advisers urging caution over a 21 June target to end all remaining coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Earlier on Tuesday, the government’s former chief scientific adviser, Prof Sir Mark Walport, said the UK may be in the foothills of a third wave. “I hope not, but it’s not impossible,” he told BBC Breakfast.
While the B.1.1.7 Alpha variant, or “UK variant”, was disappearing, the Delta variant, B.1.617.2, was taking over, Walport said.
It was the third day in a row that scientists had called for caution. On Monday, Prof Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said there had been “exponential growth” in new cases, with the variant first detected in India accounting for three-quarters.
Downing Street on Tuesday said Boris Johnson stood by his view that nothing in current coronavirus data suggested an end to coronavirus lockdown restrictions would need to be delayed.