The United Kingdom has reported the lowest daily total of new coronavirus cases since July 4, adding to signs that a recent surge in coronavirus cases driven by the spread of the Delta variant may have passed its peak.
The number of new cases fell for a sixth consecutive day to 24,950 on Monday from 29,173 on Sunday.
The total number of new cases over the past week, at just over a quarter of a million, is more than a fifth lower than a week before.
The UK has been closely watched by health experts and by financial markets since almost all legal restrictions were lifted in England on July 19, not long after new cases reached their highest level since mid-January.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government judged that the risk of a big wave of deaths of hospitalisations was low due to high vaccination rates which limited the risk of serious illness, even if they did not fully stop new infections.
However, businesses have reported widespread absence of staff who are required to self-isolate due to having been in contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
And the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 in England has increased to more than 5000 on Monday - its highest level in more than four months.
A total of 5055 patients were in hospital on July 26, according to the latest figures from NHS England.
This is up 33 per cent from the previous week and is the highest since March 18.
Experts said that although the number of new virus cases has recently started to fall, it will take a while for this to show up in the hospital data due to the length of time between someone testing positive for COVID-19 and then becoming ill enough to require hospital care.
The UK has recorded almost 130,000 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, the second-highest official total in Europe after Russia.
The UK reported 14 new deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test on Monday, down from 28 reported on Sunday and the lowest daily total since July 12, government data showed.
Monday's data showed that 46.589 million people in the UK had received one vaccine dose and 37.287 million were fully vaccinated.
Australian Associated Press