The daily number of coronavirus deaths in the UK has dropped to 170, the lowest since the day after the foreclosure began.
The announcement comes a week after the first easing of restrictions in England – and although the numbers are generally lower on Sunday, the figure is almost 100 less than the 268 reported a week ago.
But the overall death toll remains the highest in Europe and now stands at 34,636.
Meanwhile, in Spain, the number of deaths per day fell below 100 for the first time since the start of its lockdown.
The numbers of UK deaths reported on Sunday and Monday are generally lower than the other five days of the week, due to fluctuations in the speed with which deaths are reported by hospitals and care homes.
Sunday’s figure is the lowest since March 24, when 149 deaths were reported. The previous evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had introduced the lock.
Spain, which implemented a strict lockdown on March 14, announced Sunday 87 new deaths. At its peak on April 2, there were 961 deaths over a 24-hour period.
Italy also declared its lowest figure since the start of the coronavirus, with a total of 145.
This is the lowest number of deaths seen in several weeks, and it is a positive sign that we have very clearly passed the peak of the disease outbreak that has triggered a UK-wide lockout.
But experts warn that the reported numbers are going down every weekend – so we can expect the numbers to go up a bit over the next week.
There is also a time lag between the emergence of new infections and, unfortunately, their outcome in recorded deaths.
It will take weeks to find out if an easing of lockdowns will now lead to more and more cases and deaths.
Experts will be watching closely for signs of a second wave of infections threatening to overwhelm the NHS.
Business secretary Alok Sharma said “to definitively overcome this disease, we need to find a safe and workable vaccine.”
Speaking at the Downing Street briefing on Sunday, he said the clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine at the University of Oxford was progressing well and announced £ 93 million to accelerate a new research laboratory on vaccines.
He added that the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca had finalized a “global license agreement” with Oxford and the government.
This means that if the trial is successful, 30 million doses will be available for the UK by September, as part of a 100 million dose agreement.
Sharma said it would put the UK at the forefront of getting the vaccine.
The business secretary also said that the opening of the first center for innovation in vaccine manufacturing in the United Kingdom should take place in the summer of 2021, a year ahead of schedule, after the government’s funding commitment .
“The center, which is already under construction, will have the capacity to produce enough doses of vaccine to serve the entire British population in as little as six months,” he said.
“But if, and it is a big deal, if a successful vaccine is available later this year, we will have to be able to produce it on a large scale and quickly. So while the agreement is under construction, the government will establish a rapid deployment with a new investment of £ 38 million. “