Coronavirus infection rates have begun to fall significantly across south east London, nearly halving in some boroughs.

The January national lockdown is finally paying dividends in London as record infection rates are beginning to drop sharply, and across the country 91% of areas have seen a decline in cases.

But hospital figures are continuing to rise in the capital, nearly 8,000, putting unprecedented pressure on local NHS services.

MORE: Revealed: How are SE London's hospitals coping with record surge in Covid-19

The figures come from Public Health England's weekly case rates for every local authority in the country.

The figures, for the seven days to January 14, show the infection rate, expressed as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the last week, per 100,000 people in the area.

And the numbers are overwhelmingly positive.

Bexley's infection rate was 1179.3 seven days ago, one of the highest in the UK, after recording 2,928 new cases.

But as of Monday, January 18, that rate has fallen to 691.9, with cases falling to 1,718.

This is a whopping decrease of 42%, which is the 7th highest fall in the country.

In Greenwich, the reported infection rate is currently 775.5, falling 28% from 1,081.1 last week.

This infection rate is currently the highest in south east London, and 2,233 new cases were recorded in Greenwich this week.

Bromley's infection rate is the lowest in south east London after the borough also witnessed a significant fall in cases.

Last week the rate was 922, but today that figure is 566.9, with 1,884 cases reported. This is a fall of 36%.

And in Lewisham the infection rate is currently 739.9, falling 28% from 1,026.7 last week. A total of 2,263 cases were recorded.

Nearby, Dartford's case rate has fallen from 1,107.4 to 754, and Lambeth has fallen from 973.2 to 740.1.

Whilst incredibly promising, these Covid-19 rates still show nearly 10,000 new infections in the past seven days, so the threat from the virus is still very much present.

Whilst the vaccine rollout is underway, the only way to bring continue to bring rates down is to follow the lockdown, and the Met Police are even encouraging neighbours to help enforce these rules.

Hospital figures show the true extend of the current threat of the virus. The number of Covid patients in hospitals is in fact still rising, and doctors are under unprecedented pressure as they seek to save an increasing number of coronavirus patients.

Covid inpatients in London is currently 7,917, figures accurate as of January 18, and 1,220 patients are so ill they are on ventilators.

Nationally, of the 315 local areas in England, 28 (9%) have seen a rise in case rates while 286 (91%) have seen a fall and one is unchanged.

Knowsley in Merseyside has the highest rate with 1,777 new cases recorded in the seven days to January 14 - the equivalent of 1,177.9 cases per 100,000 people.

This is down from 1,346.3 in the seven days to January 7.

Slough has the second highest rate, down slightly from 1,090.7 to 1,042.5, with 1,559 new cases.

Barking and Dagenham in London has dropped to third place, down from 1,544.3 to 1,028.6, with 2,190 new cases.

- The 10 areas with the largest week-on-week drop in rates

1. Epping Forest (down from 1,170.9 to 588.5)

2. Redbridge (1,357.4 to 823.7)

3. Barking and Dagenham (1,544.3 to 1,028.6)

4. Broxbourne (1,226.4 to 713.4)

5. Basildon (1,080.1 to 583.9)

6. Brentwood (956.9 to 460.9)

7. Bexley (1,179.3 to 691.9)

8. Thurrock (1,325.6 to 869.6)

9. Harlow (1,339.2 to 905.1)

10. Newham (1,408.0 to 977.8)

The list has been calculated by the PA news agency based on Public Health England data published on January 18 on the Government's coronavirus dashboard.