Last night MPs voted by 484 to 76 to renew the Coronavirus Act, which grants the state emergency powers to further control – and shut down – most parts of society. The Liberal Democrats voted against the extension, along with 35 Conservative MPs who rebelled and voted against the government, citing as their main concern the widening gap between these unprecedented powers and the danger Covid-19 presents in the UK. The latest iteration of the bill has been renewed until September – three months after the last date in Boris Johnson’s roadmap – and includes the toughest restrictions on international travel yet.
When the Prime Minister announced his roadmap out of lockdown last month, he pledged that ultimately his decisions would be driven by ‘data, not dates.’ So what story is the data telling us, after MPs voted to renew these emergency powers again?
The seven-day average for Covid infections in the UK has fallen by over 90 per cent since the January peak, with cases now hovering around where they were in mid-September last year. The fall in infections plateaued in March, which was accompanied by the return of all school children in England at the start of the month – a major reopening that has yet to cause a spike in infections.
The daily count for patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 is down 90 per cent from the latest peak, with intensive care admissions down over 90 per cent too, alongside infections. In London, the number of critical care beds occupied is at its lowest since the start of the year.
The seven-day average for deaths from Covid-19 fell below 100 earlier this month, and now sits 94 per cent below the January peak. Last week, for the first time since September, no excess deaths were reported in England and Wales.
The vaccine factor
The data above is linked to the UK’s hugely successful vaccine rollout, which this week hit the milestone of vaccinating over half of the UK’s adult population with at least their first dose.