Thursday, 8 October 2020

UK announces 17,540 Covid-19 cases


Britain today recorded 17,540 more cases of coronavirus, with the number of people testing positive for the disease every day having nearly tripled in a fortnight.

There were 6,634 diagnoses of the disease two weeks ago, on September 24,  which is the most recent point of reference after a counting blunder at Public Health England (PHE) rendered last week's data invalid. 

Health chiefs recorded 14,162 coronavirus cases yesterday, which was more than double the figure of 6,178 recorded a fortnight before. The rolling seven-day average of daily infections — considered a more accurate measure because it takes into account day-to-day fluctuations — has also risen by about similar amount over the same time frame.

 Another 77 coronavirus deaths were also announced today, the highest daily figure since early July. It marks a 30 per cent rise on last week's 59 fatalities and 92 per cent higher than the number of victims posted the Thursday before, when there were 40 deaths. Data shows the rolling seven-day average number of daily deaths is 56, up from a record-low of seven in mid-August. 

In another grim milestone Hospital admissions in England have now passed 500 a day for the first time since June. On Tuesday, the last day for which figures are published on the dashboard, 524 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised in England - up from 472 the previous day. The last time admissions breached this level in England was June 2. For the UK as a whole, there were 602 admissions on Tuesday. 

Although all signs suggest the UK is headed for a difficult winter, the number of Covid-19 deaths and infections are still a far-cry from levels seen during the darkest days of the pandemic in spring, when more than 1,000 patients were dying and at least 100,000 Britons were catching the disease every day.  

But experts at PHE described the spiralling statistics as 'very concerning' and urged people in locked-down Britain to abide by new social distancing rules coming their way next week. Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at the beleaguered Government-run body, said: 'We are seeing a definite and sustained increase in cases and admissions to hospital. The trend is clear, and it is very concerning.

'It remains essential that we all continue to socially distance, wash our hands regularly, wear a face covering when needed, and follow the guidance if living in an area with additional restrictions. Numbers of deaths from Covid-19 are also rising so we must continue to act to reduce transmission of this virus.'

It comes as the PM signed off a new 'traffic light' system of curbs for England after days of bitter wrangling between ministers and scientists, with a swathe of the country where infections have been surging facing the harshest Tier Three level. 

The Government has not revealed the threshold for its tiering system, but Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle - three cities that have continued to see infection rises despite local lockdowns - are expected to be hit with the draconian measures.

Hospitality businesses are set to be shut under the new rules, likely to be confirmed Monday and imposed from Wednesday, but shops, offices and schools will stay open. Ministers are still mulling the fate of hairdressers and leisure facilities - but Chancellor Rishi Sunak will bring forward a special furlough-style compensation scheme for workers and firms hammered by the curbs. 

Conservative MPs and local leaders in the North have been venting fury about the government's stance, with former minister Jake Berry accusing the premier of being 'London-centric' and enjoying his sweeping emergency powers 'a little bit too much'. Politicians in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield raged at 'diktats announced without notice' and said ministers were treating the North like a 'petri dish for experimentation' while the South gets off lightly. 

Experts have questioned the science behind closing bars and restaurants in England's hotspots when official PHE statistics show hospitality venues account for just 4 per cent of all Covid-19 clusters in the country. Some have pointed to Spain as a shining example of a country that appears to have tamed its second wave of infections without closing bars. Average cases fell to an average of 9,500 this week from 11,200 two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, official data has revealed coronavirus killed three times as many people as influenza and pneumonia this year. Covid-19 was listed as the underlying cause of death in 48,168 fatalities recorded in England and Wales between January and August, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  Influenza caused just 394 deaths during the same time period and pneumonia — often caused by the flu — was behind 13,619 deaths.


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