UK’s Covid-19 infection rate almost doubles in a week
By Jane Kirby, Ian Jones and Josh Payne, PA
The rate of Covid-19 infections across the UK has almost doubled in a week.
The UK-wide seven-day rate currently stands at 125.7 cases per 100,000 people, up from 63.8 per 100,000 a week ago, analysis by the PA news agency shows.
When it comes to daily figures, as of 9am on Tuesday, there were 14,542 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
These have trebled in a fortnight – on September 22, there were 4,926 cases recorded.
The UK Government said a further 76 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday.
More than 58,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK.
It comes amid rising cases across parts of England, with the latest weekly infection figures showing that Manchester’s rate has soared, with 3,105 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 3 – the equivalent of 561.6 cases per 100,000 people.
Health officials are also expecting Nottingham to be placed in lockdown after a surge in Covid-19 cases.
The city’s infection rate has risen dramatically, with 1,465 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 3 – the equivalent of 440.1 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up from 71.2 per 100,000 in the seven days to September 26 – a week that saw 237 new cases.
The director of public health for Nottingham, Alison Challenger, said current restrictions in the city “are no longer enough to stop the spread of the virus.”
Other areas with high rates are Knowsley and Liverpool, while Newcastle upon Tyne, Sheffield and Leeds have recorded large jumps in their infection rate over the last seven days.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested on Monday that he could soon unveil a three-tier lockdown system to replace current restrictions, which critics say lead to confusion.
Earlier, Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said further restrictions may be needed across England, including closing bars and restaurants.
He said stricter measures to reduce contact between households could be needed to keep coronavirus under control while schools and universities remain open.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said an “extended half-term” or closing hospitality venues could be options.
He said: “So we are in a more difficult position, if we want to keep schools open we have to reduce contacts in other areas of society by more.”
“You will have heard measures being discussed across society as a whole, such as extended half-terms, where we try to reduce transmission for a concerted period.”
“I think those measures should be considered.”
Prof Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original nationwide lockdown, also said that contact tracing data showed that attending bars and restaurants was a risk factor in contracting the virus.
He said: “If people are sensible meeting outdoors, really the risk is quite low.”
“I think the risk really comes from meeting indoors, in enclosed environments.”
“Of course, as the weather gets colder, meeting outdoors is less appealing, people obviously do want to meet indoors, but that’s where transmission happens unfortunately.”
Prof Ferguson also said there was a risk of the NHS becoming overwhelmed with deaths, hospital admissions and beds occupied by Covid-19 patients doubling every two weeks.
He added: “But admissions to hospital, hospital beds occupied with Covid patients and deaths are all tracking cases, they are at a low level but they are basically doubling every two weeks and we just cannot have that continue indefinitely, the NHS will be overwhelmed again.”
His comments come after it emerged that thousands of positive coronavirus cases, initially not recorded in England due to a technical glitch, still needed to be reached.
Downing Street said that as of 9.30am on Tuesday, 63% of the almost 16,000 individuals concerned had been contacted by Test and Trace and a survey of their contacts completed following the data issues over the weekend.
Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said the technical problem with the system “that brings together” data from NHS test sites and tests processed by commercial firms “should never have happened” but he insisted the team had “acted swiftly to minimise its impact.”
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said problems with testing were “putting lives at risk” and that as many as 48,000 contacts may not have been traced.
Sir Paul Nurse, chief executive of the Francis Crick Institute, told Today that more needed to be done to encourage small laboratories to help increase testing capacity.
He added: “Of course we need the large laboratories, particularly for community testing.”
“But small laboratories ramped up could provide, I think, up to 100,000 tests with much more efficient turnaround.”
“But they need to be encouraged and supported.”
Meanwhile, MPs will vote on Tuesday on the regulations which enforce the rule of six in England.
Boris Johnson has urged MPs to back the rule, with his official spokesman describing the ban on more than six people mixing as a “sensible and helpful” measure.