The UK has recorded another 48,682 coronavirus cases and 1,248 deaths.
It takes the total number of deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test to 86,015, which is the fifth-highest fatality count worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On Wednesday, the UK reported a further 1,564 coronavirus deaths. This was the highest daily figure since the pandemic began, but accounts for when deaths were reported – not when they happened.
However, Thursday does mark the fourth day in a row that cases have remained below 50,000, lending credence to suggestions that lockdown is having an impact.
And 2,918,252 people have now received their first vaccine dose – an increase of 278,943.
Thursday’s data was released later than usual due to a technical problem, Public Health England said.
Ahead of the latest update to the government’s data dashboard, a senior epidemiologist said the national coronavirus growth rate appeared to be slowing, with some parts of England showing a plateau in cases.
Professor Neil Ferguson, whose early modelling made him a key player in the UK’s first lockdown, said he thinks the current wave of the epidemic may be coming under control in some regions.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it’s much too early to say exactly when case numbers are going to start coming down, but in some NHS regions in England and Wales there’s sign of plateauing.”
London in particular is seeing a drop in the number of positive coronavirus tests, alongside the South East, he said, which suggests hospital admissions are beginning to level off.
“It has to be said this is not being seen everywhere,” he added.
“Both case numbers and hospital admissions are going up in many other areas but, overall, at a national level we’re seeing the rate of growth slow.”
Public Health England’s weekly COVID surveillance report suggests the case rate is declining, but ICU admissions, hospitalisations and deaths continue to rise.
London, which passed 10,000 deaths on Wednesday, continues to have the highest number of hospital admissions.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said three million coronavirus vaccines have now been administered across the UK.
“We’re accelerating the COVID vaccine rollout across the UK,” he tweeted, adding that he was “delighted”.
Most of the jabs given so far are someone’s first dose, and until they have had their second jab, they won’t have the maximum level of protection that it can provide.