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News updates from October 29: UK daily Covid cases hit record high, US stocks notch best

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The number of US Covid-19 hospitalisations dropped below 50,000 for the first time in three months, in a further sign the country is bringing its latest wave of the pandemic under control.

There were 49,710 patients in US hospitals being treated for Covid-19, according to a Financial Times analysis of data released on Friday by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

That is the first time hospitalisations have been below 50,000 since July 30. It represents a drop of more than half since levels above 103,000 were reached between late August and early September in the wake of the Delta variant-fuelled summer wave of Covid-19.

With just days to go before the end of October, there are signs the US may be in better shape than it was 12 months ago. At this time last year, when coronavirus cases were rising in the Midwest – presaging the deadly winter wave – hospitalisations hovered around 53,000.

More than 419m vaccine doses have been administered in the US since the start of the rollout in December 2020, according to data on Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 58 per cent of the US population has been fully vaccinated.

Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine are the four states to have fully vaccinated more than 70 per cent of their populations. Thirteen states are yet to reach a mark where at least 50 per cent of their residents are fully vaccinated: West Virginia, Idaho and Wyoming the lowest of the bunch and still under 44 per cent.

The US has averaged almost 68,200 new Covid-19 cases a day over the past week, according to CDC data. That is down about 58 per cent from the summer high rate of more than 161,900 a day in early September and compares to a rate of about 78,200 in late October last year.

Over the past week, the US has averaged 1,086 deaths a day, which is down from a summer high rate of 1,857 a day in mid-September. In late October last year, daily deaths were approaching 900.

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