South Somerset saw a 39 per cent fall in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the latest seven-day period compared to the previous week.

A total of 1,298 people had a confirmed positive test result in the district between Tuesday, January 11 and Monday, January 17, according to the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.

Across the UK, 700,366 people tested positive in the same time period – a decrease of 41.7 per cent (501,197) compared to the previous seven days.

Three deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test were reported in South Somerset between January 11 and January 17.

A total of 1,845 deaths were reported across the UK, showing an increase of 38.7 per cent compared to the previous seven days.

With the number of confirmed Covid cases falling nationally, the Government is considering whether it can lift England’s Plan B restrictions on Wednesday, January 26, when they are due to expire.

Yesterday, the prime minister’s official spokesman said there were “encouraging signs” in the data and said the “maximum amount of time possible” would be given to prepare for any changes in the rules.

“In terms of the data, there are some encouraging signs that infections are falling across the country,” the spokesman said.

“Obviously, we want to see that mirrored in the latest ONS data as well.

“There are also some signs of falls – or at least plateauing – in admissions and occupancy in hospital, which is good to see.

“But it still remains the case that our NHS is under significant pressure.

“There are over 16,000 Covid patients in hospital in England alone.

“So, we are keeping a very close eye on the data, but we do believe the mitigations we have in place – particularly our booster programme – is offering massive protection to the public.”

Professor Mike Tildesley of Warwick University, who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling Group, said the data indicates the Omicron wave could be “turning around”.

He said: “Hospital admissions are still relatively high, albeit there is some evidence that maybe they’re plateauing or possibly going down in London, which is cautiously good news.

“I would say we probably need about an extra week of data to really see the effect of children going back to school – we’re still only two weeks since children went back to school – but if we still see that over the next week or so, I’d be pretty confident that we are seeing this wave turning around.”

This morning, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab described an allegation from Dominic Cummings that Boris Johnson misled the House of Commons over a Downing Street drinks gathering as “nonsense”.

Chard & Ilminster News: DEPUTY PM: Justice minister Dominic Raab has responded to comments made by Dominic Cummings about 'partygate' (Image: Stefan Rousseau, PA Wire)DEPUTY PM: Justice minister Dominic Raab has responded to comments made by Dominic Cummings about 'partygate' (Image: Stefan Rousseau, PA Wire)

Mr Cummings, the prime minister’s former chief adviser, said he was willing to “swear under oath” that Mr Johnson lied when he said he did not know the event - held on May 20, 2020 - would be a “drinks party” in advance.

Mr Raab told Times Radio: “The suggestion that he lied is nonsense.

“He’s made it very clear to the House of Commons that questions on this, that he thought it was a work event.”

When asked what would be expected if Mr Johnson had lied to the Commons, Mr Raab said “it would normally under the ministerial code and the governance around Parliament be a resigning matter”.

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