THE Covid alert level in the UK has been downgraded after a “consistent” fall in cases, hospital admissions and deaths - meaning the virus is no longer 'rising exponentially'.

The four chief medical officers of the UK have said the threat level should be lowered from “level 4” to “level 3”, thanks to the success of the vaccination programme and social distancing restrictions.

This means that the epidemic is in general circulation, but transmission of the virus is no longer deemed to be high or rising exponentially.

It comes as experts said that the nation is in a “strong position” to press ahead with the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Meanwhile, a further 217 cases of Covid were reported across the North-East and North Yorkshire in the 48-hours to May 9.

A seventh large vaccination centre for the region will also open this week. The facility at Hexham Mart, Northumberland, becomes operational on Thursday, May 13.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce that people in England will be able to take a step closer to normality from next week as more indoor mixing and hugging loved ones will be permitted once more.

Boris Johnson will hold a press conference in Downing Street later on Monday to announce the next steps in England’s road map out of lockdown.

In a statement, the chief medical officers of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the UK chief medical officers and NHS England national medical director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 4 to level 3.

“Thanks to the efforts of the UK public in social distancing and the impact we are starting to see from the vaccination programme, case numbers, deaths and Covid hospital pressures have fallen consistently. However, Covid is still circulating with people catching and spreading the virus every day so we all need to continue to be vigilant. This remains a major pandemic globally.

(PA Graphics)(PA Graphics)

“It is very important that we all continue to follow the guidelines closely and everyone gets both doses of the vaccine when they are offered it.

It is expected that Mr Johnson will confirm that England can press ahead with the next phase out of lockdown from May 17, which allows more freedoms both in and outdoors.

The Government has said the latest data suggests easing restrictions from May 17 is unlikely to risk a resurgence in infections.

It comes after latest figures show a third of UK adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with a total of 17,669,379 people having received both jabs – the equivalent of 33.5% of all people aged 18 and over.

Overall more than 53 million vaccine doses have been administered in the UK.