Britain today recorded its highest number of coronavirus deaths for more than four months after another 150 victims were announced.
Department of Health statistics show this many deaths hasn’t been registered since June 10 when 164 lab-confirmed fatalities were added to the toll. For comparison, 81 deaths were recorded last Saturday as well as 136 yesterday.
The UK crossed a grim milestone this week when it recorded more than 100 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday (143), the first time this had been seen since June 17 when there were 110 deaths from the virus.
Health chiefs today posted another 16,171 cases, up only six per cent on the figure recorded last Saturday (15,166), in a sure sign that the UK’s coronavirus outbreak may be slowing down. As many as 15,650 more positive tests were added to the tally yesterday.
The number of deaths is miles off the levels seen at the height of the pandemic when more than 1,000 were seen every day at the beginning of April.
It comes as a model by Cambridge University predicts the UK could suffer more than 690 Covid-19 deaths a day in November as infections spread into older – and more at risk – parts of the population.
And more than half of the population wake up under tightened coronavirus restrictions – with London entering tier two curbs and Lancashire joining Liverpool in tier three, but with gyms still allowed to open.
But the Prime Minister is still resisting calls from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and regional mayors for a nationwide ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to be initiated over the half-term break.
As the deaths were announced today:
- Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson revealed his eldest brother Bill had died from coronavirus after being admitted to intensive care;
- Boris Johnson reportedly backed down from imposing tighter restrictions in Manchester as he feared they would not be enforced by police;
- Traffic flowed freely between England and Wales on the first day of its travel ban on people from English coronavirus hotspots;
- Scientists say up to one million Britons could be tested for Covid-19 a day after Christmas as manufacturers get closer to delivering Moonshot testing target;
- Jacinda Ardern wins a landslide victory in New Zealand after eliminating Covid-19 in the country through draconian lockdown restrictions;
- The UK has recorded a total of 43,579 Covid-19 fatalities and 705,428 positive cases of the virus since the pandemic first struck at the start of this year.
Some 136 deaths were recorded yesterday, but scientists have warned this could rise to 690 by the end of the month
Yesterday the Government announced there had been 15,650 lab-confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, but experts warn this is not an accurate indicator of the overall scale of the epidemic
The first map shows the percentage change in coronavirus cases between September 28 and October 4, while the one underneath shows the percentage change in Covid-19 cases between October 5 and 11. This is a clear sign the UK’s second wave may be slowing down
Covid deaths could rise to 690 per day in next two weeks, says Cambridge
Daily coronavirus deaths could reach up to 690 this month, scientists have warned as ONS data recorded a 50 per cent weekly rise in infections.
The Medical Research Council biostatistics unit at Cambridge University presented Sage with the bleak forecast as they published new predictions on how fast the virus is spreading.
They estimate that 47,000 people in England are contracting Covid-19 ever day, with cases doubling in under seven days.
While the ‘substantial proportion’ of cases are asymptomatic, their modelling suggests that hundreds will be dying every day within a fortnight.
The report published this week says: ‘We predict that the number of deaths each day is likely to be between 240 and 690 on October 26.’
They said the daily number of infections was within the range of 28,900 to 74,900 per day, with the best estimate being 47,000.
They added the estimated growth rate for England is 0.09 per day, meaning ‘the number of infections grows by 9 per cent each day and it translates into a doubling in number in under one week.’
Daily cases in the North West (17,600) and North East and Yorkshire (10,000) are estimated to be particularly high, the MRC scientists said.
Of the 86 deaths reported in hospitals by NHS England today, the North West suffered the highest death toll after it recorded 33 further deaths today.
It was followed by the Midlands, where 17 more deaths were reported, and the North East and Yorkshire, which had an additional 15 deaths.
The most hospital-registered deaths in England were in the more than 80 years old category, with 48, followed by the 60 to 79 category, with 32. There were a further six deaths reported in England in those aged 40 to 59, and no deaths announced in younger age groups.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson today announced his eldest brother Bill has sadly died a day after being admitted to intensive care with coronavirus.
He tweeted: ‘Despite the efforts of all the staff at Liverpool Hospital ICU my brother sadly died at 10.45 last night.
‘We want to thank the dedicated staff risking their lives for us. Thank you all for your messages of love and support. Let’s stick together and support each other and win this battle.’
Politicians, celebrities and members of the public rallied round the 62-year-old mayor, who only five weeks ago lost another brother, Henry, to cancer.
Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool city region, said: ‘Terrible news Joe. Thoughts and prayers with you and your family.’
Labour MP Wes Streeting said: ‘So sorry to hear this, Joe. Sending love and prayers to you and your family.’
And David Lammy added: ‘How awful. Love and prayers to you and your family Joe.’
Bill Anderson was a former chairman of the Merseyside Merchant Navy Association, which today paid tribute to the ‘shipmate trade unionist, fighter.’
Condolences for Joe Anderson poured in, including from MP David Lammy, Everton FC star Yannick Bolasie and Liverpool City Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham.
Mr Anderson has been a vocal critic of the Government in recent days and yesterday branded the tier system a ‘shambles’ after Lancashire’s Tier 3 appeared softer than Liverpool’s.
He demanded ‘immediate clarification on why Lancashire gyms are allowed to stay open’ while Liverpool’s were forced to close.
It comes after Boris Johnson said the UK was aiming to further ramp up its testing capacity with the help of 15-minute tests, which could be rolled out across the country.
The Government has set itself an aim of carrying out half a million tests a day by the start of November. The latest figures, for October 16, reveal they carried out 304,000, still some 200,000 off their target.
But a scientist, who has not been named, told the Times that Britain could be carrying out a million tests a day by Christmas with results in just 15 minutes.
Nearly 600 coronavirus cases were recorded in Manchester (left) on September 30, which then fell to 377 recorded cases on October 9. On Thursday, there were just two cases in Manchester. In Newcastle (right), 277 cases were recorded on October 6, which similarly fell down to 170 infections on October 9 and just 10 cases on Thursday
The R rate remains stable for the UK as a whole but it has dropped for the second week in a row in England, falling from a possible range of 1.3 to 1.6 on October 2 to 1.2 to 1.4 today. But SAGE warned today it is ‘confident transmission is not slowing’ and that cases will continue to grow exponentially for as long as R remains above one
They said orders have been placed for machines capable of processing 150,000 tests each a day, with the aim of trebling current capacity, alongside the purchase of millions of tests that can provide results in 15 minutes.
Top scientist warns circuit breaker may be inevitable
A senior Government adviser today warned that only a second national lockdown would achieve the suppression of coronavirus as he blasted other restrictions as ‘biting around the edges’.
Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, advocated a national circuit-breaker as he claimed the Government had lost control of an ‘eye-watering’ number of coronavirus cases.
He rubbished suggestions that testing would allow officials to keep the pandemic in check, and called the situation ‘grave’ as he appeared to blame a rise in cases on a national fatigue with the restrictions.
The top Government adviser then recommended a total shutdown of society and economy in an echo of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s unprecedented call for a circuit-breaker on Tuesday.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir John said: ‘Things look pretty grave at the moment, and the numbers are going up pretty rapidly.
‘I think the other phenomenon you’re seeing is people are pretty unhappy, they’re tired, this has been going on too long, they can’t go about their business, they can’t do the normal things that they would expect to do, hospital staff are exhausted from the last go.
‘I think we’re actually in real trouble, because as that happens compliance and the willingness to help fix this problem starts to dissipate.
‘Having said that, I can see very little way of getting on top of this without some kind of a circuit-breaker because the numbers are actually pretty eye-watering in some bits of the country and I think it’s going to be very hard to get on top of this just biting around the edges.’
He added: ‘No one has ever turned back an epidemic or indeed a pandemic with testing. Testing alone has never solved the problem.
‘It’s one of many tools in the toolbox that you sort of need to get it to work, but in the places that have been successful, like South Korea and to some extent China, their ability to pursue the results of testing aggressively has been extremely important in terms of managing it.’
‘It’s going pretty well,’ the scientist told The Times. ‘They have really scaled up their capabilities. By Christmas we’ll be at a million a day, I think. That seems perfectly possible.’
The Prime Minister said on Friday: ‘We are now testing more people than any other country in Europe but we always want to go further.
‘Scientists and companies in Britain and around the world have been developing new tests which are faster, simpler and cheaper.
‘We’ve already bought millions of these tests, some of which are very simple, meaning you simply need to wipe the swab inside your mouth and can give a result as quickly as in 15 minutes.’
‘We’ve started building the infrastructure for domestic manufacture of these tests, ensuring that Britain has the ability to produce millions of fast tests here.
‘Over the next few weeks we will start distributing and trialling these tests across the country.’
The Government said that hospitals in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Basingstoke and Southampton will test asymptomatic NHS staff, and use the data to assist with Track and Trace.
Ministers quietly stepped back a pilot scheme in Salford, Greater Manchester, earlier this week, where they had planned to get tests out to the entire 254,000-population of the city every week.
They were to be offered rapid saliva tests that give results in 20 to 90 minutes, with the hope of finding an effective way of achieving the goal of carrying out 10million tests a day by the end of the year.
But six weeks after its launch the trial was scaled back to those who are most at-risk and living in ‘some areas’ of ‘high-density housing’ – in a warning sign the Government may be abandoning its 10million-a-day Operation Moonshot target.
Amid fears over lapsing public trust in coronavirus restrictions, a Government adviser has suggested the Queen should be used to help boost the nation’s confidence.
Vaccine misinformation expert Professor Heidi Larson said she feared that people’s concerns about vaccine safety were not being addressed, which could result in them not taking it.
It comes as scientists warned that a working Covid-19 vaccine ‘might not be enough’ to end the pandemic unless governments and technology firms tackle coronavirus misinformation.
In an interview with The Times, Prof Larson, who leads the Vaccine Confidence Project, said the palace would have to weigh the risks of using a new vaccine on the Queen.
The government adviser believes it would be a ‘smart’ move as the Queen could help build trust in the vaccine in the older generation.
She said: ‘If there’s one thing I’ve seen, and I’ve been here (in the UK) for over a decade now, it’s the trust that she (the Queen) gets.
‘And she’s certainly in that older cohort, so I think that’s actually really, really smart.’
Prof Larson said the ‘big question’ would be whether the Queen, who is aged 94, would get a vaccine.
‘I think the palace is going to have to decide for themselves – do you want to risk a new vaccine on the Queen? Or do you want to keep her isolated? They’re going to have to weigh those risks.’
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