The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 has continued to fall in the UK, according to the latest daily figures.

The UK recorded 29,173 new cases yesterday – down from 48,161 logged a week earlier on July 18.

The number of new infections by date reported has fallen for five days in a row for the first time since February.

It is also the first time since the start of the pandemic that a sustained drop in cases has not coincided with a national lockdown.

In Scotland, case numbers started falling earlier than in England, with some evidence the decline may have been triggered by Scotland’s exit from the Euro 2020 tournament, although the downward trend has continued since then.

“There has been a lot of conversation about a football-related bounce in infections and whether we were seeing a wave-within-a-wave,” said Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.

“In Scotland, though, it’s now starting to look like it’s a longer-term trend. We haven’t seen any sign of cases picking up [since the football finished]”.

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, said: “The data at present is looking good for at least the summer.

“Today’s figures do not of course include any impact of last Monday’s end of restrictions [in England]. It will not be until about next Friday before the data includes the impact of this change.”

A total of 46,563,452 people in the UK had yesterday had a first dose of a Covid vaccine, while 37,160,659 had received a second dose.

The seven-day average of cases, which smooths out daily fluctuations, is showing a 15.4 per cent decline compared with the week before.

Meanwhile, policing minister Kit Malthouse apologised for delays at the borders as he suggested airline staff could also receive isolation exemptions to relieve the “pingdemic”.

He told Times Radio: “I know Border Force are one of the frontline services that will be able to access more of this test and release.

“And I think at Heathrow yesterday we had a technical issue with the e-gates, where they went down for 90 minutes or so that caused a problem. I’m very sorry about that and I’m sorry for the people that were inconvenienced.

“Hopefully, Border Force will be relieved of some of the aspects of the pingdemic.”

Asked whether airline staff could receive exemptions as well, he said: “Yes, we would be in conversation with employers.”

He suggested the wider relaxation of isolation rules for all fully vaccinated people will not be brought forward from August 16.

He said: “No, I don’t think so, no. First of all, we want to make sure as many people as possible actually get jabbed.

“Also, we need to have the kind of natural firebreak, if you like, of the start of the school holidays where people separate a little bit more, there’s a bit more atomisation, before we get to August 16.”

Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said young people are getting “seriously ill” due to Covid.

Speaking on LBC, he said there have been close to 200 admissions in Bristol with a mean age of 40 and added: “We have had people under 30 on our intensive care unit and also requiring high-level oxygen therapy.

“This is not always trivial in young adults. There are younger people really getting seriously ill at the moment.

“But the other one is these vaccines now, it’s clear, do reduce the risk of not only getting the infection but passing it on to other people.

“Getting immunised is going to reduce the risk of spreading this infection and enable them to get back to normal.”

Mr Malthouse did not rule out the idea of vaccine passports becoming mandatory at football stadiums in England and other venues.

He said: “No doubt they will have looked at some of the impact of the virus that came out of the Euros recently. There was also checking there as well on the Covid app on the phone, but we’ll be having a look at how that works and setting out for the future, but at the moment I think that’s all speculative.”