Covid-19 infections have fallen in all four UK countries for the first time in nearly three months, official figures show, while the number of people hospitalised continues to fall.
The news provides fresh evidence the latest wave of the virus has peaked, while health experts have praised the autumn booster campaign for helping to prevent high levels of serious illness.
“It is hugely encouraging that Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations are still in decline across the UK. This goes to show how effective the vaccine programme continues to be and we thank everyone who has come forward for their latest vaccination so far,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, the director of public health programmes at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
“However, it is still vital that anyone who has not had their booster this autumn does so as soon as possible. Vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself, your family and the NHS, particularly as we head into winter.”
The total number of people in private households in the UK testing positive for coronavirus stood at 1.5 million in the week to 1 November, down 18% from 1.9 million the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The current wave looks to have peaked at just over 2m infections in mid-October – some way below the peak of nearly 4m reached in early July, during the wave caused by the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 variants.
A mix of Omicron variants have been driving the latest wave, all of which are being monitored for their potential to spread rapidly, though none have yet been designated variants of concern.
In England, the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in the week to 1 November was 1.3 million, or about one in 40 people, down from 1.6 million the previous week, or one in 35. It is the second week in a row that England has recorded a drop.
In Wales there was a third consecutive weekly fall, with infections at 72,400, or one in 40 people, down from 77,500.
In Northern Ireland the latest estimate is 39,900 infections, or one in 45 people, down sharply from 61,200.
In Scotland infections have fallen to 107,300, or one in 50 people, down from 141,400. Scotland now has the lowest prevalence of the virus of all four UK countries.