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Experts warn daily Covid cases could be as high as 45,000 in England


Britain’s daily coronavirus case count dropped today to 13,864 from more than 17,000 yesterday and official estimates of the R rate suggest the outbreak may be slowing in a ray of hope for the UK’s second wave.

But a hat-trick of reports warn the country is still on a precipice with up to 45,000 people catching it every day and fears the outbreak is ‘getting out of control’. 

Today’s count of new positive tests is the second lowest of the week, higher only than the 12,594 on Monday, and marks a 21 per cent drop from yesterday’s 17,540. SAGE estimates the latest R rate for the UK to be between 1.2 and 1.5, which is down from a predicted 1.3 to 1.6 last week.

Reports from the Office for National Statistics and Imperial College London, and Public Health England data from yesterday, however, show that cases were continuing to spiral out of control in England at the start of October.

As many as 45,000 people caught the virus on October 5, according to the results of one major government-run surveillance study which also pointed out that cases are growing twice as fast in the North of the country as they are in the South. 

Another report by the ONS estimated 17,400 contracted the disease each day in England alone in the week ending October 1, which was double the number-crunching agency’s prediction last week. This is the highest estimate the ONS has given and puts the outbreak larger than it was in late April when data began.

And statistics published yesterday by PHE show that all but three areas of the country have had infection rates rise since last week. Of a total 149 local authorities, only Luton, Wolverhampton and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly had a lower number of cases per person than last week.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected on Monday to formally unveil plans to split the country into three tiers, with the worst-hit areas facing the harshest restrictions which may include closing pubs and restaurants to slow the spread of the disease. 

But experts on the Government’s SAGE group fear the tier system will not be strong enough to get the virus under control and avoid a second wave. Some believe ministers should have pulled the trigger on a nationwide ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in England two or three weeks ago when it was first discussed.

Scrutiny of the PM’s plans has only increased after Nicola Sturgeon imposed a two-week alcohol ban inside pubs and restaurants across Scotland, while closing bars entirely in coronavirus hotspots. The prospect of draconian rules being imposed across England has sparked a Tory backlash, with MPs demanding the Government set out in detail how areas subject to the tightest restrictions will be able to get them lifted. 

Department of Health officials today also announced 87 deaths, up 31 per cent on the 66 recorded last week. But it is impossible to accurately compare today’s cases with what was recorded on either of the last two Fridays due to a Public Health England blunder that saw officials miss 16,000 positive coronavirus tests between September 25 and October 2. For comparison, 4,322 infections were announced on September 18 – the most recent Friday with comparable data. There were 17,540 new cases announced yesterday, October 8. 

The Imperial College London-led REACT study estimates there were 45,000 new cases of coronavirus every day in England during the week ending October 5 - almost half the predicted rate of transmission during the darkest days of the crisis in April

A report by the Office for National  Statistics showed that more than 0.4 per cent of people in England were thought to be infected with Covid-19 in the week up to October 1, which was the highest estimate since the data began in May. It suggests that one in every 240 people has the disease, although this varies widely according to which part of the country people are in

The Imperial College London-led REACT study (left) estimates that more than 0.6 per cent of the population of England had coronavirus in the week up to October 5, while the ONS (right) puts the figure at around 0.41 per cent for the week ending October 1

Covid-19 hospital admissions are also still rising, with 491 newly-infected patients requiring NHS care on Wednesday – the most recent day figures are available for in England. This is up 50 per cent in a week (328) but down slightly on the day before (524). Almost three-quarters of all admissions are occurring in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Midlands, the data shows.

The ONS estimate suggests the Department of Health’s testing programme is now picking up most of the true number of cases, with it managing to diagnose 11,000 people on October 1 – 63 per cent of the ONS’s new cases prediction. But the Imperial College London research suggests it is only spotting 29 per cent of all infections.

But the estimates are still a far cry from what Britain was recording the darkest days of the pandemic in March and April, when scientists believe the true figure was at least 100,000 each day. Some academics have even estimated that as many as 350,000 people caught the disease on March 23 – when the lockdown was imposed.   

Meanwhile the Imperial REACT study also shows that cases are doubling twice as fast in England’s Northern regions as they are in the rest of the nation – it estimated the national doubling time is 29 days but said it was more like 13 days in Yorkshire, 14 in the West Midlands and 17 days in the North West. It may even be shrinking in London, the researchers added, in part because of immunity developed in the first wave. And they claimed the R rate in the capital could be below the dreaded number of one.  

In Britain’s latest coronavirus news: 

  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a local lockdown furlough scheme that will cover two thirds of employee pay-checks up to £2,100 a month for workers who are forced to stay off work because of coronavirus restrictions;
  • Coronavirus infection rates are are up to seven times higher in student areas than in any of England’s local authorities, testing data shows, and in Manchester’s Fallowfield 5% of people tested positive in the first week of October;
  • Office for National Statistics data showed the UK economy grew by just 2.1 per cent in August, much lower than analysts had predicted and far below the 6.4 per cent expansion recorded in July; 
  • A row has erupted over PHE and Professor Whitty presenting MPs with ‘dodgy’ data claiming that coronavirus is spreading widely in pubs and cafes after it emerged only around 160 premises nationwide were included;  
  • Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds claimed the Chancellor’s Jobs Support Scheme is ‘forcing businesses to flip a coin over who stays and who goes’ because it is cheaper to employ one worker than two to do the same hours; 
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned the capital could face tougher restrictions as leafy Richmond becomes the worst-hit borough – but one report suggests the R rate in the city is below 1;
  • Ministers are considering using a computer algorithm to produce a ‘tailored shielding’ programme by considering people’s personal health and circumstances to work out whether they should be locked down;
  • Former Tory Treasury minister Lord O’Neill called for ‘true devolution’ to improve the coronavirus response and for a ‘tailored’ version of the furlough scheme;
  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said the Government had ‘lost control of the virus’ and urged ministers to ‘get a grip’. 
Meanwhile, a Public Health England surveillance report published yesterday showed only three places across England have not recorded a rises in their per-person Covid-19 infection rates in the past week - Luton, Wolverhampton and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Meanwhile, a Public Health England surveillance report published yesterday showed only three places across England have not recorded a rises in their per-person Covid-19 infection rates in the past week – Luton, Wolverhampton and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Britain's coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen slightly, according to the Government's scientific advisers. They say the current R value - the number of people each Covid-19 patient infects - is between 1.2 and 1.5. This is down slightly on last week's range of 1.3 and 1.

Britain’s coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen slightly, according to the Government’s scientific advisers. They say the current R value – the number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is between 1.2 and 1.5. This is down slightly on last week’s range of 1.3 and 1.

HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS RISE 50% IN A WEEK WITH TWO THIRDS IN NORTH OF ENGLAND

Covid-19 hospital admissions continue to rise, with 491 newly-infected patients requiring NHS care on Wednesday – the most recent day figures are available for in England. 

This is up 50 per cent in a week (328 on Wednsday September 30) but down slightly on Tuesday this week (524). Almost three-quarters of all admissions are occurring in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Midlands, the data shows. 

On Wednesday 286 of the 491 hospitalisations in the North East, North West and Yorkshire alone (58 per cent).

That means nearly six in 10 admissions occurred in northern parts of the country whereas in the South East, South West and London, there were 168 people hospitalised with the virus (34 per cent of the total).

The Midlands recorded 81 more coronavirus cases and the East of England posted 17. London was the UK’s first epicentre of the disease, which researchers think allowed many Londoners to build some immunity to it.

They suggest that is why the capital is still reporting fewer cases, deaths and hospital admissions than most of the north, despite it being Britain’s most densely populated city.

The South East and South West have also enjoyed lower transmission because Covid-19 finds it difficult to spread in rural areas – a trend seen around the world.

Higher levels of poverty, cramped living conditions, colder weather and more people working people-facing jobs in the North may be explaining its higher rate, scientists say. 

Pressure on the Government to take tough action is growing after infection rates continued to spike, with the north of England particularly badly affected.  

Today’s ONS report, made using data from the two weeks up to October 1, warns ‘the number of infections has increased rapidly in recent weeks’, and official tests show cases continued to rise in the first week of October meaning next week’s estimate will likely be higher again. 

ONS experts estimate that 0.41 per cent of England’s population had coronavirus in the week ending October 1 – equal to one in every 240 people.

A week earlier the estimate was just 0.21 per cent and today’s update said: ‘There has been a marked increase in the incidence rate over the last six weeks.’

The report is based on a series of 167,332 swab tests done on random people across the country – regardless of whether they feel ill or not –  over a period of two weeks. 588 people tested positive. Historical comparisons are made using tests from six weeks before October 1, which included 356,000 tests and 820 positives. 

There is now a ‘clear variation’ across different regions of the country, it said, with the highest rates of infection in the North East, where it is around one per cent, and in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West, where it is 0.9 per cent.

This means around one in 100 people are carrying the disease. In the East, South East and South West, however, fewer than 0.25 per cent of people have the illness – less than one in 400. 

Meanwhile teenagers and young adults, between the ages of 11 and 25, continue to drive up the disturbing rates of infection.  

In its ‘School Year 12 to Age 24’ group, 1.53 per cent of people were estimated to be Covid positive by October 1.  This includes sixth form, college and university students as well as others who are in work or apprenticeships.

The rate was considerably higher than in any other age group, with 0.48 per cent the next highest incidence in 11 to 16-year-olds: ‘School Year 7 to School Year 11’.

It was then similar across younger children and working-age adults, between 0.22 and 0.28 per cent, before dropping to the lowest rate of 0.18 per cent among over-70s.

The age data is a ray of hope in the worrying statistics because the lowest infection rate is in the most vulnerable group. Over-70s are by far the most likely to die if they catch coronavirus but they currently appear to be catching it least often.

The REACT study, commissioned by the Department of Health and run by Imperial College London, found similar trends in its separate-but-similar mass testing programme.

The report looked at Covid-19 swabs from 174,949 volunteers tested across England between September 18 and Monday October 5.

It found cases are doubling every 29 days in England, much slower than the 13 days estimated for the period mid August to early September, resulting in a national reproductive rate (the R number) of 1.16.

But at a regional level, the team estimated cases are doubling much quicker – every 17 days in the North West, 13 days in Yorkshire and the Humber and 14 days in the West Midlands. However, they said the doubling time may be as low as seven days in Yorkshire and the West Midlands, and every nine days in the North West.

The REACT study estimated that the R could already be below 1 in London, at around 0.97, and that immunity developed from widespread infection in the first wave may be offering people some protection.

INFECTIONS RISING TWICE AS FAST IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND 

The REACT study, commissioned by the Department of Health and run by Imperial College London, has found more evidence of a North-South divide in England’s coronavirus outbreak.

The report looked at Covid-19 swabs from 174,949 volunteers tested across England between September 18 and Monday October 5.

It found cases are doubling every 29 days in England, much slower than the 13 days estimated for the period mid August to early September, resulting in a national reproductive rate (the R number) of 1.16.

Testing data shows that case rates are significantly higher in the North of England than in the South

Testing data shows that case rates are significantly higher in the North of England than in the South

But at a regional level, the team estimated cases are doubling much quicker – every 17 days in the North West, 13 days in Yorkshire and the Humber and 14 days in the West Midlands. 

However, they said the doubling time may be as low as seven days in Yorkshire and the West Midlands, and every nine days in the North West.

The REACT study estimated that the R could already be below 1 in London, at around 0.97, and that immunity developed from widespread infection in the first wave may be offering people some protection.

Professor Steven Riley, one of the project’s lead researchers, said prior exposure to the virus among people in London could be contributing to its lower R rate.

He said a degree of immunity ‘will be making some effect, but it’s not clear as to what degree’, adding that ‘on average across London, the total amount of immunity is quite low’. 

Professor Steven Riley, one of the project’s lead researchers, said prior exposure to the virus among people in London could be contributing to its lower R rate.

He said a degree of immunity ‘will be making some effect, but it’s not clear as to what degree’, adding that ‘on average across London, the total amount of immunity is quite low’. 

The Government is now facing urgent calls for action and must respond to fears that the outbreak is heading for the devastating levels that were seen in March and April.

Gillian Keegan, Conservative MP for Chichester and minister for apprenticeships and skills, told the BBC’s Question Time programme last night that two thirds of hospitalisations are happening in the North West and North East of England, as well as in Yorkshire. 

She said: ‘This is serious, it is getting out of control and we have to do something to bring it back under control.’ 

Her stark admission came amid reports that experts on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) fear Mr Johnson’s planned tier system does not go far enough.

According to the Guardian members of SAGE believe the planned closure of pubs and restaurants in hotspot areas will not be sufficient to get the virus under control and avoid a second wave. 

Some believe ministers should have pulled the trigger on a nationwide ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in England two or three weeks ago when it was first discussed. 

Today’s hospital admissions in England paint a clear picture of a coronavirus North-South divide, with 286 hospitalisations in the North East, North West and Yorkshire.

That means nearly six in 10 admissions occurred in northern parts of the country whereas in the South East, South West and London, there were 168 people hospitalised with the virus (34 per cent of the total).

The Midlands recorded 81 more coronavirus cases and the East of England posted 17. London was the UK’s first epicentre of the disease, which researchers think allowed many Londoners to build some immunity to it.

They suggest that is why the capital is still reporting fewer cases, deaths and hospital admissions than most of the north, despite it being Britain’s most densely populated city.

The South East and South West have also enjoyed lower transmission because Covid-19 finds it difficult to spread in rural areas – a trend seen around the world.

Higher levels of poverty, cramped living conditions, colder weather and more people working people-facing jobs in the North may be explaining its higher rate, scientists say. 

Data shows in Fallowfield in Manchester – a thriving student suburb of the city – five per cent of people tested positive for the disease in the week ending October 2

Scrutiny of the PM’s plans has only increased after Nicola Sturgeon yesterday imposed a two-week alcohol ban inside pubs and restaurants across Scotland, while closing bars entirely in coronavirus hotspots. 

RISHI SUNAK CONFIRMS LOCAL LOCKDOWN FURLOUGH SCHEME 

Rishi Sunak opened the public spending taps again today with the introduction of a new ‘safety net’ furlough scheme for workers at pubs, restaurants and other businesses forced to shut because of new restrictions.

In a move that will cost the Treasury billions, employees will get two-thirds of their wages, all covered by the taxpayer, in a dramatic expansion of the Job Support Scheme (JSS) due to come into effect in November.

The scheme will be targeted at all businesses that are legally forced to close by new local lockdown measures to be introduced under a new traffic light system expected to be unveiled next week.

As the Chancellor tore up his Winter Economic Plan he also confirmed he is to increase cash grants for businesses forced to close their doors, increasing the payouts to a maximum of £3,000 a month, payable fortnightly, up from the previous £1,500 maximum every three weeks.

The promise of fresh support for jobs comes as the Government prepares to unveil its new three tier strategy for local lockdowns next week.

Parts of the country which are put in the highest tier are due to be told that pubs, restaurants and cafes will have to close to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Mr Sunak told reporters: ‘I hope this provides reassurance and a safety net for people and businesses in advance of what may be a difficult winter.’

Rishi Sunak's Treasury will now have to foot the bill for local lockdowns' impacts on businesses

Rishi Sunak’s Treasury will now have to foot the bill for local lockdowns’ impacts on businesses

The Chancellor denied that it was just a rebranded furlough scheme, which he previously declined to extend arguing it was ‘fundamentally wrong’ to hold people in jobs that only exist inside the scheme.

He said: ‘This is a very different scheme to what we’ve had before. This is not a universal approach, this is an expansion of the Jobs Support Scheme specifically for those people who are in businesses that will be formally or legally asked to close so in that sense it’s very different.

‘I’ve always said that we will adapt and evolve our response as the situation on the health side adapts and evolves. That’s what’s happening. I think that’s the pragmatic and right thing to do.’

However, the fresh spending announced by Mr Sunak will raise further fears about the pressure on the government finances with borrowing already set to top £300 billion this year. The Office for National Statistics revealed last month that public sector debt continues to climb above £2 trillion.

Asked how much the JSS scheme would now cost, a Treasury source said: ‘Hundreds of millions of pounds a month.’ 

The prospect of new draconian rules being imposed across England has sparked a Tory backlash, with MPs demanding the Government set out in detail how areas subject to the tightest restrictions will be able to get them lifted. 

Ministers have been accused of using flimsy data after they relied on figures based on fewer than 100 pubs to justify the potential closure of tens of thousands of venues across the North of England. 

Jake Berry, the former Northern Powerhouse minister, told the Telegraph: ‘Crucially, they need to show not just how you go into a tier but how you leave a tier because no one wants to be caught in a ‘Hotel California lockdown’ with all the damage that will cause the local economy.’ 

There is also a growing revolt among northern political leaders as Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, promised to challenge new rules ‘in any way I can’ if the Government closes businesses ‘without providing proper compensation’. 

There were an average of 17,200 new cases per day of Covid-19 in private households in England between September 25 and October 1, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up from an estimated 8,400 new cases per day for the period from September 18 to 24. The ONS said there has been a ‘marked increase’ in the rate of new infections over the last six weeks. The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.  

Mr Johnson is said to be holding meetings in Downing Street today to hammer out the final details of his plans. 

It came as Chancellor Rishi Sunak prepares to announce a new local furlough scheme to prop up jobs in lockdown areas and as ministers lashed out at Mr Johnson’s plans being leaked to the press four days before they are due to be announced. 

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi said such leaks are ‘corrosive’ and result in ‘confusion’ as he insisted the ‘right thing to do is to wait for the decision’.    

Meanwhile, it emerged overnight that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Britons may need to shield indoors for months, with fresh coronavirus curbs likely to last until at least April to stop the NHS from collapsing. 

Ministers could even use an algorithm to help decide which vulnerable people in coronavirus hotspots should stay at home and shield.

The Government is said to be working on a ‘tailored shielding’ scheme, led by deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries, which could see hundreds of thousands of people told to avoid others in the coming winter months.

The plan is not yet finalised amid concerns about the impact a return to shielding could have on mental health but The Times said ministers are looking at using an algorithm developed by Oxford University to inform decisions on who should isolate.

The potential use of an algorithm to come up with shielding guidance is likely to spark concerns after faulty computer modelling led to the A-level results debacle.

It is thought advice for the most vulnerable not to mix with others could be included in the top tier of the Government’s new three tier lockdown system which is widely expected to be unveiled on Monday. 

According to The Times, a decision on shielding has not yet been finalised and there are fears such a measure would be damaging to the mental health of people who would be forced to spend months at home alone.    

At the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March, 2.2million people were judged to be ‘extremely vulnerable’ because of health problems and were told to stay at home and avoid all contact with others.

Studies then found that depression and anxiety were far more common in those who were shielding compared to those who weren’t. Vulnerable people were also more worried about getting food and other essentials.

Imperial College London's study shows that the prevalence of coronavirus has soared since July and August so that around 0.75 per cent of people were infected with the illness by October (top graph)

Imperial College London’s study shows that the prevalence of coronavirus has soared since July and August so that around 0.75 per cent of people were infected with the illness by October (top graph)

The REACT study showed that while most regions had similar levels of infections in earlier rounds of testing (paler bars on the graph), the latest results show a stark divide between regions, with far more cases in the North of the country than in any other regions

The REACT study showed that while most regions had similar levels of infections in earlier rounds of testing (paler bars on the graph), the latest results show a stark divide between regions, with far more cases in the North of the country than in any other regions

Regional breakdowns show that outbreaks across the country are following the same patterns but cases are currently higher in the North of England

Regional breakdowns show that outbreaks across the country are following the same patterns but cases are currently higher in the North of England

A Whitehall source told The Times that a new, more personalised approach is planned.

‘The intention is not to bring back the same programme but to be more targeted in the measures and what you ask people to do,’ they said. ‘It is a big ask to lock people away to cocoon over what could be a long winter.’

FORMER JUDGE LORD SUMPTION SAYS PUBLIC SHOULD ‘TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR OWN LIVES’ 

Lord Jonathan Sumption, a former Supreme Court judge, has put his name to a long list of scientists and politicians who are desperately seeking to avoid more lockdown measures. 

Backing the Great Barrington Declaration, an anti-lockdown petition written by scientists and signed by almost 18,000 researchers and medics and 160,000 members of the public, Lord Sumption said it would not sway the Government’s policy.

Lord Sumpton called Health Secretary Matt Hancock a 'fanatic' and Boris Johnson a 'muddled old bumbler'

Lord Sumpton called Health Secretary Matt Hancock a ‘fanatic’ and Boris Johnson a ‘muddled old bumbler’

‘Coronavirus policy is being driven by Matt Hancock, a fanatic, and Boris Johnson, a muddled old bumbler,’ he wrote in a column in The Sun.

‘The only person standing up to them in this Cabinet of yes-men and yes-women seems to be Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

‘The scientific advisers have wobbled about all over the place.

‘The Government’s policy is founded upon a great lie — that we are all vulnerable to Covid so it is necessary to take over the lives of everyone.

‘Many people believe this. But it is not true.

‘For healthy people under 60 the symptoms are usually mild or non-existent. The victims are overwhelmingly very old people and those with other serious health problems — serious enough to appear as a cause of death on the death certificate.’

He said young and healthy people were being forced to ‘bear the brunt’ of coronavirus rules despite not being at much personal risk and said infections among young people unlikely to die ‘don’t mean a row of beans unless they lead to hospitalisations or deaths’.

Faced with the prospect of normal life not returning until September 21 and a caution that most Government predictions have been wrong, he added: ‘It is about time we voted with our feet and took back control of our own lives.’ 

People could instead be told to take personal precautions, such as avoiding shopping at busy times. An algorithm developed by Oxford University could be used to decide who needs to take the strictest precautions.

And in a presentation to more than 130 MPs, Professor Whitty said new vaccines and treatments could be available in January but added the crisis would only ease in April.

It comes as Professor Whitty said lockdown measures could be needed for another six months amid fears the numbers of people in intensive care could exceed the April peak in the north of England by the start of next month. 

And leading doctor Katherine Henderson, the head of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, warned the NHS could implode this winter if ‘effective precautions’ are not taken.   

At the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March, 2.2million people were judged to be ‘extremely vulnerable’ because of health problems and were told to stay at home and avoid all contact with others.

Studies then found that depression and anxiety were far more common in those who were shielding compared to those who weren’t.

Vulnerable people were also more worried about getting food and other essentials.

A Whitehall source told The Times that a new, more personalised approach is planned.

‘The intention is not to bring back the same programme but to be more targeted in the measures and what you ask people to do,’ they said.

‘It is a big ask to lock people away to cocoon over what could be a long winter.’ People could instead be told to take personal precautions, such as avoiding shopping at busy times. An algorithm developed by Oxford University could be used to decide who needs to take the strictest precautions.

And in a presentation to more than 130 MPs, Professor Whitty said new vaccines and treatments could be available in January but added the crisis would only ease in April.

He made the briefing as part of preparation for new lockdown measures set to be imposed on Monday.

Professor Whitty said the number of people in intensive care in the north of England could be as high as 304 within 22 days. That would be two more than the original peak in April.

When asked how long restrictions would be in place, Professor Whitty said it could be for between five and six months ‘on and off’.

One MP told The Times, ‘He said things would really get better in April when the seasons were working in their favour. The message was ‘this isn’t going on for five years’.’

Sir Graham Brady, who opposed the Government in the Parliamentary vote on the Rule of Six restrictions earlier this week, gave a warning about any new measures.

He said he hoped that any new measures would be ‘proportionate’ and supported by the ‘proper evidence.’

The influential MP added that if he Government wants to introduce further restrictions on the north and the Midlands, then it was ‘essential’ that Parliament be allowed to ‘approve or reject’ the plans. 

Lord Jonathan Sumption, a former Supreme Court judge, has put his name to a long list of scientists and politicians who are desperately seeking to avoid more lockdown measures. 

CORONAVIRUS CASES DOUBLE IN A WEEK IN ENGLAND, ONS SHOWS 

The number of people catching coronavirus every day in England more than doubled in the last week of September to a staggering 17,400, according to the ONS.

Weekly data from the Office for National Statistics warns 224,400 people had the virus on October 1, up from 116,000 a week earlier.

It comes as MPs have warned the virus is ‘out of control’ now in the UK and the Government has not made any new announcements on what it is doing this week.

Today’s report warns ‘the number of infections has increased rapidly in recent weeks’.

The estimated numbers of daily new infections have surged since they hit hopeful lows of 2,000 per day in the summer

The estimated numbers of daily new infections have surged since they hit hopeful lows of 2,000 per day in the summer

There is a ‘clear variation’ across different regions of the country, the ONS said, with the highest rates of infection in the North West, North East and Yorkshire. More than one per cent of the population in those regions – one in every 100 people – were likely infected at the start of this month.

Teenagers and young adults, between the ages of 11 and 25, continue to drive up the disturbing rates of infection.

If the estimate is accurate it suggests the Department of Health’s testing programme is now picking up most of the true number of cases, with it managing to diagnose 11,000 people on October 1.

And it follows a week of increasingly worrying data showing that hospital admissions are surging in the North, where they could surpass levels seen in April by the end of the month, and daily deaths are creeping back up again.

Backing the Great Barrington Declaration, an anti-lockdown petition written by scientists and signed by almost 18,000 researchers and medics and 160,000 members of the public, Lord Sumption said it would not sway the Government’s policy.

‘Coronavirus policy is being driven by Matt Hancock, a fanatic, and Boris Johnson, a muddled old bumbler,’ he wrote in a column in The Sun.

‘The only person standing up to them in this Cabinet of yes-men and yes-women seems to be Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

‘The scientific advisers have wobbled about all over the place.

‘The Government’s policy is founded upon a great lie — that we are all vulnerable to Covid so it is necessary to take over the lives of everyone.

‘Many people believe this. But it is not true.

‘For healthy people under 60 the symptoms are usually mild or non-existent. The victims are overwhelmingly very old people and those with other serious health problems — serious enough to appear as a cause of death on the death certificate.’

He said young and healthy people were being forced to ‘bear the brunt’ of coronavirus rules despite not being at much personal risk and said infections among young people unlikely to die ‘don’t mean a row of beans unless they lead to hospitalisations or deaths’.

Faced with the prospect of normal life not returning until September 21 and a caution that most Government predictions have been wrong, he added: ‘It is about time we voted with our feet and took back control of our own lives.’     

It came as No10 faced a concerted backlash from local leaders and MPs over plans to subject millions of people living in the North to even tougher restrictions from next week.

One Tory MP said the data had been ‘cobbled together’ to justify the pub closures, using a three-month-old survey carried out in the US as well as cherry-picked figures.

Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of causing ‘confusion, chaos and unfairness’ by revealing the exact measures will be announced next week, while they are still being discussed.

Prof Whitty briefed 149 MPs from the North and the Midlands yesterday to tell them that a ‘significant proportion’ of exposure to coronavirus was happening in the hospitality sector.

He showed them a table which suggested that 32 per cent of transmission may be occurring in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, with only 2.6 per cent taking place in the home.

But the MPs complained the information was ‘selective’ and clearly serving the Government’s purpose.

They pointed out how the NHS Test and Trace figures show a huge 75.3 per cent of transmissions take place home, with only 5.5 per cent happening in pubs, restaurants and churches.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick came close yesterday to confirming the plans to close pubs and restaurants in hotspot areas.

‘It is correct to say the number of cases in the North West and the North East and a number of cities, particularly in the Midlands like Nottingham, are rising fast and that is a serious situation,’ he said.

The above slide reveals that, according to Public Health England, 41 per cent of coronavirus infections in the UK have been linked to pubs, bars or restaurants

These graphs were also shown at the briefing. The suggest infections across all age groups are higher in the North of England than the rest of the country

PUBS FACE CLOSURE OVER ‘DODGY DATA’ THAT PINS COVID CASES TO THEM 

Ministers were accused of using flimsy data after they relied on figures based on fewer than 100 pubs to justify the potential closure of tens of thousands of venues across the North of England.

It came as No10 faced a concerted backlash from local leaders and MPs over plans to subject millions of people living in the North to even tougher restrictions from next week.

One Tory MP said the data had been ‘cobbled together’ to justify the pub closures, using a three-month-old survey carried out in the US as well as cherry-picked figures.

Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of causing ‘confusion, chaos and unfairness’ by revealing the exact measures will be announced next week, while they are still being discussed.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty briefed 149 MPs from the North and the Midlands yesterday to tell them that a ‘significant proportion’ of exposure to coronavirus was happening in the hospitality sector.

He showed them a table which suggested that 32 per cent of transmission may be occurring in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, with only 2.6 per cent taking place in the home.

But the MPs complained the information was ‘selective’ and clearly serving the Government’s purpose.

They pointed out how the NHS Test and Trace figures show a huge 75.3 per cent of transmissions take place home, with only 5.5 per cent happening in pubs, restaurants and churches.

Public Health England data on outbreaks conflicts with that from NHS Test & Trace and shows that more coronavirus outbreaks are linked to schools and offices than to pubs and restaurants

Public Health England data on outbreaks conflicts with that from NHS Test & Trace and shows that more coronavirus outbreaks are linked to schools and offices than to pubs and restaurants

‘We are currently considering what steps we should take, obviously taking the advice of our scientific and medical advisers, and a decision will be made shortly.

‘But I’m not able to give you right now exactly what is going to happen.’

Asked if there will be an announcement linked to the hospitality trade next week, Mr Jenrick said: ‘We are considering the evidence. In some parts of the country, the number of cases are rising very fast and we are taking that very seriously.

‘If we do have to take further steps, then obviously we will take very seriously how we can help and support those individual businesses.’

Dr Henderson said of the need to press ahead with lockdown measures, ‘If we do not take effective precautions, Covid will continue its explosion across the country, a devastating consequence of which could be the implosion of our NHS this winter.’

Mr Hancock echoed her concerns when he told the NHS Providers annual conference yesterday: ‘We are at a perilous moment in the course of this pandemic.

‘I am very worried about the growth in the number of cases, especially in the North West and the North East of England, parts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and parts of Yorkshire.’

He added: ‘In parts of the country the situation is again becoming very serious.

‘Hospitalisations in the North West are doubling approximately every fortnight. They have risen by 57 per cent in just the last week alone.

‘Unfortunately we’re seeing hospitalisations in the over-60s rising sharply and the number of deaths from coronavirus also rising.’

Mr Hancock suggested that localised crackdowns will be a part of life until a working vaccine is found and can be rolled out on a mass scale.

He said: ‘We know from bitter experience that the more coronavirus spreads, the harder it is to do all the other vital work of the NHS too.’

He continued: ‘The message to the public must be that we all have a part to play to control this virus.

‘Our strategy is simple – suppress the virus, supporting the economy, education and the NHS until a vaccine can make us safe.’

Mr Hancock said his ‘message to everyone in the NHS is that we can and we will get through this’.

‘Sadly, there will be more difficult times ahead but we will get through this together,’ he added.

His comments prompted accusations that he was trying to ‘bounce’ Mr Johnson into closing the hospitality sector in the North.  

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges which represents the UK and Ireland’s 24 medical royal colleges, said that people need to strictly follow restrictions or the NHS could be ‘unable to cope’.

She told BBC Breakfast: ‘Given the recent dramatic spike in both the number of cases and hospital admissions it is clear that we could soon be back to where we were in April if we are not all extremely careful.’ 

Statistics show that people between the ages of 18 and 25, and people in the North of England, are driving the second wave of Covid-19 now threatening the country (Pictured: A group of young people in Newcastle city centre last night)

Statistics show that people between the ages of 18 and 25, and people in the North of England, are driving the second wave of Covid-19 now threatening the country (Pictured: A group of young people in Newcastle city centre last night)

Coronavirus cases are on the rise throughout much of Europe - thought Spain, previously the continent's worst-hit country, has now started to see its infection rate fall

Coronavirus cases are on the rise throughout much of Europe – thought Spain, previously the continent’s worst-hit country, has now started to see its infection rate fall

Official data also shows how the number of patients being admitted to ICU has remained stable over the past three weeks

Official data also shows how the number of patients being admitted to ICU has remained stable over the past three weeks

Separate figures show how the number of patients dying of Covid-19 within 28 days of testing positive has risen sharply since June, while the same figure for 60 days hasn't increased as much

Separate figures show how the number of patients dying of Covid-19 within 28 days of testing positive has risen sharply since June, while the same figure for 60 days hasn’t increased as much

Who Covid-19 kills: Most victims since June have been over the age of 80, followed by patients in their 70s, 60s and then 50s

Who Covid-19 kills: Most victims since June have been over the age of 80, followed by patients in their 70s, 60s and then 50s

A heat map shows which areas of England have suffered the most Covid-19 victims since June, with the North East, North West, Birmingham and parts of East London being badly affected. The data is based on patients who died within 28 days of testing positive

A heat map shows which areas of England have suffered the most Covid-19 victims since June, with the North East, North West, Birmingham and parts of East London being badly affected. The data is based on patients who died within 28 days of testing positive

Statistics based on patients dying from Covid-19 within 60 days of testing positive shows most victims are in the North West

Statistics based on patients dying from Covid-19 within 60 days of testing positive shows most victims are in the North West

Separate data shows how the mortality rate varies across England. The mortality rate is how many Covid-19 patients have died since June for every 100,000 people living in each authority

Separate data shows how the mortality rate varies across England. The mortality rate is how many Covid-19 patients have died since June for every 100,000 people living in each authority

Schools are driving most Covid-19 outbreaks, according to PHE data. Cases diagnosed among university students are also starting to rise

Schools are driving most Covid-19 outbreaks, according to PHE data. Cases diagnosed among university students are also starting to rise

PHE data released today showed infected people were most often coming into contact with family they live with, followed by friends coming to visit them and then people in leisure settings — which include pubs and restaurants

PHE data released today showed infected people were most often coming into contact with family they live with, followed by friends coming to visit them and then people in leisure settings — which include pubs and restaurants

PHE data shows how some areas of the North West have recorded more than 1,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people since June — the equivalent of 1 per cent of people testing positive

PHE data shows how some areas of the North West have recorded more than 1,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people since June — the equivalent of 1 per cent of people testing positive

How rates of Covid-19 are increasing the most among people in their 20s, from every socioeconomic background (bottom left). They are rising most in the most deprived people in their 30s and children aged 10 to 16 (bottom right and top left) - but the opposite is true for people aged 17 to 19 (top right)

How rates of Covid-19 are increasing the most among people in their 20s, from every socioeconomic background (bottom left). They are rising most in the most deprived people in their 30s and children aged 10 to 16 (bottom right and top left) – but the opposite is true for people aged 17 to 19 (top right)

Data from PHE shows how Covid-19 infection rates are rising in different regions among different ethnicities

Data from PHE shows how Covid-19 infection rates are rising in different regions among different ethnicities

Separate data shows how infection rates are rising among different age groups in the different regions of England

Separate data shows how infection rates are rising among different age groups in the different regions of England

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), denied that scientists were imposing measures on Mr Johnson.

Two-thirds of public would back Scottish-style ‘circuit breaker’ nationwide lockdown

An exclusive poll for MailOnline has found strong support for a nationwide 'short sharp shock' of tough restrictions

An exclusive poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies has found strong support for a nationwide ‘short sharp shock’ of tough restrictions across the country in a bid to break transmission chains

Nearly two-thirds of the public would back a Scottish-style ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown as Boris Johnson prepares to shut pubs and restaurants in the North.

An exclusive poll for MailOnline has found strong support for a ‘short sharp shock’ of tough restrictions across the country in a bid to break transmission chains.

The research by Redfield &Wilton Strategies also uncovered widespread confusion and disaffection with the current complex local curbs. 

Around a third of Birtons are not confident they know the rules in their area, while half admit they have not been following them fully.

He said that a short sharp shock was needed to ‘stop the epidemic from getting out of control in the next few weeks or months and overwhelming the health service’.

‘We are not that far away from that. I hate to be gloomy, but in the North of England now we are not that far away from the health service being stretched,’ he told a Royal Society of Medicine webinar.

Prof Edmunds denied scientists were ‘holding a gun to the PM’s head’ on the restrictions. ‘It’s the virus holding a gun to the PM’s head,’ he said.

Leaked documents suggest the PM is poised to unveil a new three-tier system of lockdown measures designed to make the system easier to understand.

Areas with relatively low infection levels will be placed in tier one, where only national restrictions such as the rule of six and 10pm curfew will apply.

Tier two will also include bans on home visits and indoor socialising with other households.

Options for tier three include total closure of the hospitality sector, a ban on overnight stays outside the home and the closure of venues such as cinemas.

A Treasury source said the measures should be ‘as reticent as possible’.

Reports also emerged of a rift between Mr Hancock and Mr Sunak, with the Chancellor said to be furious that the Government is pressing ahead with its ‘traffic light system’ of restrictions proposed for 13 million people in the north of England.

Instead of introducing yet more complicated curbs, Mr Sunak’s view is that the Government should be plotting a clear path back to ‘normality’ to prevent further devastation to the economy.  

The top tier in the new traffic light measures is expected to apply to Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle – three cities that have continued to see infection rises despite other restrictions.   

Hospitality businesses are set to be shut under the new measures, 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 Mr Sunak will bring forward a special furlough-style compensation scheme for workers and firms hammered by the curbs.

It comes as the World Health Organisation announced a record in new daily coronavirus cases confirmed worldwide, with more than 350,000 reported to the UN health agency on Friday.

The new daily high surpasses a record set earlier this week by nearly 12,000 infections.

That tally includes more than 109,000 cases from Europe alone.

In a press briefing, WHO’s emergencies chief Dr Michael Ryan acknowledged that even as Covid-19 continues to surge across the world, ‘there are no new answers’.

He said that although the agency wants countries to avoid the punishing lockdowns that have devastated economies, governments must ensure the most vulnerable people are protected and that numerous measures must be taken.

‘The majority of people in the world are still susceptible to this disease,’ Dr Ryan warned.

He said countries should focus not just on restrictive measures, but on bolstering their surveillance systems, testing, contact tracing and ensuring populations are engaged.

As the virus continues to surge across Europe and elsewhere, he acknowledged that restrictive measures might be warranted at some point.

British scientists reported this week that the Covid-19 outbreak is doubling every few weeks, French hospitals are running out of ICU beds and Spain declared a state of emergency in Madrid as coronavirus cases soar.

Dr Ryan said lockdowns ‘may be unavoidable where the disease has got out of control again, but we shouldn’t accept that in every country, the return of cases should be seen with an immediate return of the need for lockdown restrictions’.

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