The UK has seen another 30,439 people test positive for Covid and 43 more virus-related deaths in latest 24-hour period.
Figures released by the Department of Health this afternoon showed that the number of cases have dropped by 6.1 per cent in the past seven days.
Last Sunday (September 26) saw 32,997 further cases, while 63 people lost their lives.
A fortnight ago 56 fatalities were announced along with 29,612 infections.
There is some encouraging news as hospitalisations due to Covid have fallen by 10.3 per cent in a week, with 5,064 in the past seven days.
It comes as the global coronavirus death toll passed five million, with an average of 8,000 fatalities per day.
Unvaccinated people are particularly exposed to the virulent Delta strain.
More than half of all global deaths reported on a seven-day average were in the United States, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and India.
Reports today claim schools could open on Saturdays under new plans aimed at helping pupils who lost precious teaching time during the pandemic.
Between 95,000 and 135,000 children did not return to school this term, according to new figures published today.
The number does not include normal absences or students staying at home due to Covid-19.
It is feared some have developed anxiety or mental health problems during the pandemic, while others have quit classes to join county lines gangs which coerce them into delivering drugs across the country.
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New plans expected to be backed by ministers could see schools extending their opening hours and possibly opening on Saturdays to make up for the lost teaching time.
Meanwhile, scientists are urging reluctant parents to get their children jabbed even if they have already had Covid.
It comes as the National Education Union says one in 22 youngsters had the disease last week – and rates for 10 to 14-year-olds spiralled to 1,500 in 100,000.
Medical experts are unsure how much natural immunity is built up by being infected.
Independent SAGE’s Dr Helen Salisbury of Oxford University said: “We don’t know the answer. I urge children to get vaccinated.”
And a new Covid test that will tell sufferers whether they are infectious could form part of the UK’s testing efforts this winter.
Scientists behind the tests hope they can be used to release Covid sufferers who will not be able to pass the virus on.
Vatic, the British start-up behind the tests, has registered them with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MRA) for professional use and is attempting to get approval for the tests to be used at home.
The test works by identifying whether the virus is active, in a similar way to how a flower bud can appear opened or closed.