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UK records 158 deaths and 47,685 new infections as pandemic continues to ease

The UK reported 158 Covid-related deaths within 28 days of a positive test and 47,685 new cases were identified on Friday.

That compared with 51,899 cases and 183 deaths reported on Thursday.

The latest figures show that both Covid cases and deaths have dropped by a quarter over the last seven days compared with the seven days before that.

A total of 139,336,958 vaccinations have been rolled out across the UK.

There have been 37,945,645 boosters given out.

It comes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid said free lateral flow tests would be “reviewed” in the Government’s Living With Covid Plan.

He said: “We are looking at how we learn to live with Covid. And that does mean the protections we’ve enjoyed over the last few months, that they all should be reviewed.

“So we’re looking at the very latest data and next week we’ll have more to say about it.”

The Health Secretary said the country is seeing “the other side of the Omicron wave”.

As all final restrictions are set to be lifted, Government scientists have warned Covid cases could “rapidly rise” when isolation ends.

A sub-group informing the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) suggested transmission could rise by between 25% and 80% if people “return to pre-pandemic behaviours and no mitigations”.

In its paper the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M-O) said modelling by the University of Warwick showed while the lifting of restrictions has “previously been gradual, a sudden change, such as an end to testing and isolation, has the scope to lead to a return to rapid epidemic growth”.

While the paper was published on Friday, it was dated earlier this month and sent to Sage.

It estimated measures such as testing, self-isolation, mask wearing, increased home working and the avoidance of high-risk venues reduced transmission by approximately 20-45%.