The third wave of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England may have peaked, new figures suggest.
A total of 593 admissions of patients with coronavirus were recorded on July 31, NHS England said.
This is down 19% on the previous week, and is the lowest daily number since July 16.
The seven-day average for admissions has also started to decrease, falling four days in a row from 793 on July 27 to 744 on July 31.
The figures are the first sign the recent drop in new cases of Covid-19 could be having an impact on hospital numbers.
Any change in the level of new reported cases of coronavirus typically takes a while to show up in hospital data, due to the length of time between someone testing positive for Covid-19 and then becoming ill enough to require hospital care.
Though hospital admissions appear to have peaked, the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is continuing to rise – though the rate of increase is slowing down.
A total of 5,309 people were in hospital in England with Covid-19 on August 2, up 5% on the previous week – the smallest week-on-week rise for nearly two months.
Responding to the figures, Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, said: “The fact that hospital admissions are now falling provides further evidence that the decline in cases in the last couple of weeks was real and not due to an artefact from changing testing or people deleting the NHS Covid app, as some have suggested.
“As yet the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has not peaked, though it is clearly plateauing, and we can expect to start seeing this fall in the next few days.
“It will take another week or so before we see any impact on reported deaths,” he added.
The average number of deaths reported each day of people in the UK who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 currently stands at 76.
This is up from 64 a week ago and 42 the week before that.
Meanwhile the average number of new reported cases of coronavirus in the UK stood at 26,364 on August 2: down 27% on the previous week and the lowest since July 5, Government figures show.