Coronavirus infections fell during lockdown
The number of daily new confirmed coronavirus infections has continued to fall in the past month. With a gradual easing of restrictions this spring, the seven-day average for the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test has fallen substantially, from almost 1,300 in early January to 17 on 27 April. Almost 34 million people have had a first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine. Almost 13 million have had a second. However, infection rates have soared in India amid the emergence of a new variant, raising concerns over the pandemic intensifying further. Cases also remain higher in the EU.
Transport usage grows as lockdown relaxed
The number of trips taken on UK roads and public transport has increased to the highest levels since summer 2020 in the past month, in a sign that more people are starting to leave their homes after lockdown measures were relaxed. According to Apple mobility data – which records requests made to Apple Maps for directions – bus and train journeys are getting closer to pre-pandemic levels. Walking and driving is significantly higher.
Stock markets rally on hopes for economic recovery
The FTSE 100 has rallied sharply in the past month amid hopes for a faster economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as several countries ease lockdown measures and governments continue to provide billions of pounds of emergency support. The blue-chip index has gained more than 200 points since the start of April, with firms most likely to benefit from the reopening of the economy rising most – including retail, travel, leisure and tourism firms. Reflecting growing optimism over the global economic recovery, the index of leading UK company shares rose above the 7,000 mark on 16 April. However, concerns over the Indian variant have put the brakes on the stock market rally in recent days, with the FTSE 100 falling back to just below 7,000.
Inflationary pressures start to build
UK inflation rose in March, driven by the higher cost of petrol and clothes, in a signal that prices are moving to an upward trajectory as the economy recovers. The Office for National