There have been nearly 300,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK and more than 45,000 people have died, government figures show.
These numbers only include people who have been tested, and the actual death toll is higher.
Decline in new cases stalls amid concern over hotspots
The new coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19, was first confirmed in the UK at the end of January, but the number of daily confirmed cases and related deaths only began to increase significantly by the second half of March.
Lockdown restrictions came into force across the UK at the end of that month and the number of new confirmed cases continued to rise until April, before starting to fall steadily throughout May and June.
However, that the downward trend now appears to have stalled.
On Sunday, a further 726 cases were reported. A further 23 were confirmed in Scotland, which has seen its biggest increases since 21 June in recent days.
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Public Health England figures on coronavirus cases were updated on 2 July to include people tested in the wider community, as well as hospitals and healthcare workers, causing the numbers to increase sharply. Figures for the rest of the UK already included people tested in the wider population.
Since some of the March lockdown restrictions were eased, a number of local outbreaks have been identified across the country. Health Secretary Matt Hancock says targeted action is being taken every week against such clusters of infections.
The Lancashire town of Blackburn with Darwen is one of the latest hotspots, where coronavirus infections have spiked. Extra restrictions have been brought in, including tighter limits on visitors from other households.
It follows the introduction of local lockdown measures in Leicester at the end of June and beginning of July, when schools and non-essential shops were closed again because of an increase in positive cases. Some of those measures will be eased from 24 July.
Official figures suggest the number of hotspots overall across the UK is declining.
Public Health England has also produced a coronavirus watch list of areas, based on an assessment of incidence rates, and other indicators such as trends in testing, local responses and plans, healthcare activity and mortality.
Deaths in the UK return to normal levels
While the fall in the number of new cases of coronavirus appears to have stalled, government-announced deaths have continued to drop since a peak mid-April, though the downward trend has slowed recently.
On Sunday, a further 27 deaths were reported.
The latest figures were published on the government’s coronavirus dashboard despite concerns from Health Secretary Matt Hancock about the data from Public Health England (PHE).
Officials said the Department for Health and Social Care would no longer link to the dashboard on social media posts or update the figures on the department’s own coronavirus webpage while it conducts a review into how coronavirus deaths have been recorded in England.
PHE confirmed that reported deaths may have included people who tested positive months before they died. Other UK nations only include those who died within 28 days of testing positive.
However PHE continues to make the figures available and updates the dashboard.
When looking at the overall death toll as a result of the virus, the number of deaths can be measured in three different ways.
Public Health England counts deaths with a positive test result.
But the Office for National Statistics (ONS) counts death certificates mentioning the virus. This measure suggests there had been more than 55,000 deaths by 3 July.
When looking at deaths over and above the expected number for the period of the pandemic – the third way of measuring – the coronavirus death toll rises to almost 65,000 by the same date.
Figures released by the ONS on Tuesday for this third measure show the number of deaths from all causes registered in a single week has stayed below the five-year average for three consecutive weeks.
If the trend of overall deaths continues to be below average, then the total for this third measure will continue to fall.
The UK has the highest official death toll in Europe and the third highest in the world, after the US and Brazil.
However, both countries have much larger populations than the UK and the number of people who have died per 100,000 people in the UK is currently higher than for either the US or Brazil.
The government has argued it is too soon to make definitive international comparisons but, as the impact of the first wave becomes clear in many countries, analysis is beginning to suggest the UK has been the hardest hit of the leading G7 nations.
The majority of the UK’s deaths have been in England, with more than 40,000 so far – about 90% of the total for the UK.
What is the R number in the UK?
The “R number” is the average number of people an infected person will pass the disease on to.
If R is below one, then the number of people contracting the disease will fall; if it is above one, the number will grow.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, known as Sage, believes the R number across the whole of the UK is currently between 0.7 and 0.9.
The government says in England itself it is between 0.8 and 1.0. It is highest in London where it is between 0.8 and 1.1, and the South West where it is between 0.7 and 1.1.
The estimate for Scotland is between 0.5 and 0.9. In Northern Ireland it is between 0.5 and 1.0, while it is between 0.7 and 1.0 in Wales.
The government has said that the R number is one of the most important factors in deciding when lockdown measures can be eased.