A glimmer of hope has emerged in new data suggesting Britain’s latest Covid wave may have peaked.

Thursday saw 39,906 new positive tests recorded – the first time cases were lower than they were on the same day in the previous week since May.

On the same day last week there were 48,553 new cases – which was the highest daily rise in six months.

The fall will be at least partially explained by the start of the school holidays meaning fewer people are getting tested.

Schoolchildren and staff are encouraged to take routine lateral flow tests at home.

Prof Paul Hunter, expert at the University of East Anglia, said: “This represents an 18 per cent drop.

Thursday saw 39,906 new positive tests recorded –

“Also the week on week percentage increase in cases has fallen from a peak of 43 per cent last Sunday to just 24 per cent today.

“But it is still too early to see any impact of the relaxations of Monday 19 and some of the reduction in cases will be because of many children no longer being tested as regularly now schools are closed.

“I would caution that this may just be a temporary slowing in reports before we start to see a return to exponential growth towards the end of next week as a result of the ending of restrictions last week.

We will start to have some idea towards the end of next week, but it won’t be until the August 9 before we know for certain.

“But there are some positive signs.”

Covid-19 vaccine doses in the UK
(Image: Press Association Images)

The graph shows the number of adults in England who have received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine
(Image: Press Association Images)

Even if cases have hit a plateau, hospitals and deaths are still expected to rise for two to three weeks.

Daily UK deaths within 28 days of a positive test were 84 on Wednesday, up from 49 a week earlier.

It came on the day separate data from King’s College London’s ZOE Covid symptom tracker app estimated that the UK R value is 1.1.

Prof Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, said: “Unfortunately, hopes that the current wave of infections had peaked have faded, as ZOE’s updated data shows new Covid cases continuing to rise as the UK lifts most restrictions.

While Covid is less severe in the young and vaccinated population, it’s not definitely not going away anytime soon.

“We mustn’t forget the lessons of the pandemic in our rush to return to ‘normal life’, as this will only prolong Covid’s grip on our lives.”

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