SIGNS are that the recent spike in Covid cases is continuing to ease in Winchester district.

In many areas across the district the rate of increase in reported cases has levelled off, a trend in recent days.

Winchester is now the only district in Hampshire, and one of only two along with West Berkshire in the south-east, not coloured either purple of black on the official Government map. Its area is now a blue hole in purple doughnut.

It means its infection rate is now below 400 per 100,000 for the first time since the seven days to Christmas Eve.

Hampshire Chronicle: Winchester marked in blue in a sea of purpleWinchester marked in blue in a sea of purple

In the seven days to Thursday January 7, the most recent for which these figures are available, there were 476 cases down 124, or 20.7 per cent for a rolling number per 100,000 of 381.2.

But in the last seven days 11 deaths in the district have been reported compared to just one in the week before. These are likely to have been people infected several weeks ago.

Hampshire Chronicle: Denmead and SouthwickDenmead and Southwick

The worst-affected place for cases remains Denmead and Southwick where there has been 79 new cases, down 17 week on week, a drop of 42 per cent, with a rolling number of 770.3, down from 799.5. For the first time in several days it is marked purple on the official map, instead of the worst rating of black.

Hampshire Chronicle: Cooling: Oliver's Battery and HursleyCooling: Oliver's Battery and Hursley

Things are also cooling in the hotspot of Oliver's Battery and Hursley, according to Government figures released this evening.

In the seven days to January 7, 23 cases were reported, down 28 on the previous seven days, a decrease of 54.9 per cent. The rolling number per 100,000 people is down to 281.3, below the UK average.

Another area that had seen sharp rises was South Wonston, Sutton Scotney and Micheldever. In the seven days to January 7, there have been 29 cases, down one, for a rolling rate of 493.4, now below the UK average and down from 646.5 on January 3.

The Winchester ‘district’ covers more than just the 'city' and covers Hampshire from Micheldever to Denmead, and Crawley to Ropley.

Hampshire Chronicle: The numbers in HampshireThe numbers in Hampshire

Another 24 people are reported to have died of Covid-19 in the Hampshire County Council area today. It brings to 1,300 the death toll since the start of the pandemic, or a rate of 94.0 per 100,000 people.

In the last two days 16 deaths have been reported at Hampshire Hospitals Trust, which includes the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, meaning a total of 281 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

In the Winchester City Council district three people are reported to have died in the last 72 hours to bring fatalities to 117, or 93.9 per 100,000 people. In Southampton the figure is 177, or 70.1 per 100,000. In Portsmouth the figure is 179, for 83.3 per 100,000.

The plateau of cases in Winchester district continues. The number of cases reported in the last seven days is lower than in the previous week. Today there were 60 cases, taking to 452 the number in the last seven days. The previous seven days had seen 589 cases.

The number of cases in the Winchester district since the start of the pandemic is now 3,562, an infection rate of 2,852 per 100,000, below the UK average of 4,880.

In the area covered by Hampshire County Council there were 876 positive test results in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 42,704. The seven-day numbers to January 7 are 7,508, up 488 or 7 per cent, for a rolling 543.1, declining.

A further 27 Covid-19 deaths have been reported by the NHS in Hampshire in the last 24 hours. The double digit increases of recent days are continuing. Portsmouth has been badly affected with 99 deaths reported already in 2021.

The Hampshire Hospitals Trust death toll is now 281, up seven today. At Southampton Hospital the figure is 283, up five. Portsmouth Hospitals Trust recorded a further 14 to take its total to 515. Southern Health Trust is now 30 deaths, up one, with the figure for the Solent NHS Trust staying at four.

Across the county’s NHS, the five trusts mentioned above, some 1,113 people have died since March, within 28 days of a positive test. In the last week 134 deaths have been reported.

The Office for National Statistics reports 1,300 have died in the Hampshire County Council area, with an increase of 50 in 48 hours.

The most recent figures from the NHS, released on Monday, show there are currently 84 Covid patients at the RHCH compared to 57 last week and 126 at Basingstoke hospital compared to 105 previously. There are five patients at Andover War Memorial Hospital.

Experts estimate the new strain of Covid is 50 per cent more transmissable, explaining the sharp increase in cases in recent weeks.