Britain records 14,542 new Covid-19 cases as daily infections triple in a fortnight again


Britain has recorded 14,542 more coronavirus cases after the number of people testing positive for the virus every day tripled in a fortnight. 

Last Tuesday’s data, which would normally be used to measure how much the outbreak has grown in the last week, was made unreliable due to a catastrophic counting error at Public Health England. It means Tuesday September 22 is the most recent point of reference –  there were just 4,926 cases on that date.

The extraordinary meltdown – caused by an Excel problem in outdated software at PHE – resulted in nearly 16,000 cases not being uploaded the government dashboard between September 25 and October 2, meaning the scale of the UK’s outbreak has been vastly underestimated in the last week. 

Another 76 coronavirus deaths were also recorded today which is up 7 per cent on last week’s 71 fatalities and more than double the number of victims posted last Tuesday, when there were 35. The rolling seven-day average number of deaths is 53, up from a record-low of seven in mid-August.

Although clearly trending the wrong way, 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 900 patients were dying and, experts estimate, over 100,000 Britons were catching the disease every day. 

The spiralling statistics come amid fears the UK could face draconian new lockdown measures within days under plans for a local ‘Covid alert’ system. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to unveil details of the three-tier set-up as early as Thursday in an attempt to make the existing patchwork of restrictions easier to understand.   

Government sources said the top tier would include tougher restrictions than those currently applied to millions of people living across the North and Midlands. A planned ‘traffic light’ system of measures will be redesigned after PHE’s Excel bungle revealed that the virus was spreading much faster than previously thought in cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield. Ministers will meet in the coming days to thrash out exactly how far to go.

Cities including Sheffield, Oxford and Nottingham seemingly at risk of harsher restrictions as Boris Johnson tries to get a grip on local flare-ups. Options include the closure of pubs, restaurants and cinemas, a ban on social mixing outside household groups, and restrictions on overnight stays. Sources refused to rule out the possibility that some towns and cities could be placed immediately into the top tier, despite the fact that death rates remain low.  

Meanwhile, separate official statistics show the UK’s coronavirus death toll has spiked for the third week in a row. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) – a Government-run agency – revealed there were 215 victims in the week ending September 25, up 55 per cent on the 139 deaths recorded the previous week and more than double the 99 posted a fortnight ago.

But, despite the climbing death toll, anslysis shows the numbers of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 have levelled off in huge areas of England as data suggests the country is being dragged into panic by an out-of-control outbreak in the north. 

In London, the South East and the South West – home to around half of the country’s population of 55million – daily admissions appear to be plateauing after rising in line with cases during September from a low point over the summer. However, admissions are still accelerating in the North West, North East and Yorkshire, where new local lockdowns are springing up every week and positive tests are spiralling to record numbers.

Britain has recorded 14,542 more coronavirus cases as the number of people testing positive for the virus every day triples in a fortnight

Another 76 deaths were also recorded today which is more than double the number of victims posted last Tuesday, when there were 35 fatalities

Another 76 deaths were also recorded today which is more than double the number of victims posted last Tuesday, when there were 35 fatalities

Coronavirus cases in Scotland have been rising sharply since the beginning of September and Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out closing pubs and restaurants in hotspot areas or banning people from leaving cities and towns with high infection rates

Coronavirus cases in Scotland have been rising sharply since the beginning of September and Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out closing pubs and restaurants in hotspot areas or banning people from leaving cities and towns with high infection rates

Government data shows that the North West and North East and Yorkshire are the only regions to have seen a sustained and sharp increase in people being admitted to hospital (line graphs show daily hospital admissions between April and October). All regions saw a rise in cases, hospitalisations and deaths in September as people returned to offices and schools after the summer, but across most of the country these have since come under control. Hospital patients in the two northern regions and the Midlands make up more than three quarters of the entire number for England (76.8 per cent), while patient numbers in the southern half of the country remain at just a fraction of where they were in April

Government data shows that the North West and North East and Yorkshire are the only regions to have seen a sustained and sharp increase in people being admitted to hospital (line graphs show daily hospital admissions between April and October). All regions saw a rise in cases, hospitalisations and deaths in September as people returned to offices and schools after the summer, but across most of the country these have since come under control. Hospital patients in the two northern regions and the Midlands make up more than three quarters of the entire number for England (76.8 per cent), while patient numbers in the southern half of the country remain at just a fraction of where they were in April

The truth about England’s second wave of Covid-19: Hospitalisations are 6% of peak levels in the South but 30% in the North 

The numbers of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 have levelled off in huge areas of England as data suggests the country is being dragged into panic by an out-of-control outbreak in the north.

In London, the South East and the South West – home to around half of the country’s population of 55million – daily admissions appear to be plateauing after rising in line with cases during September from a low point over the summer.

However, admissions are still accelerating in the North West, North East and Yorkshire, where new local lockdowns are springing up every week and positive tests are spiralling to record numbers. But as talk grows of a second national lockdown when winter hits, figures suggests the south faces being lumped under rules it doesn’t need.

The picture is more complex in the Midlands and the East of England – in the Midlands hospitalisations rose dramatically during September but there are signs they have peaked now, while admissions appear to still be rising slowly in the East, although at significantly lower levels than in the northern regions.

Numbers of people in hospital in the worst affected areas have hit almost a third of what they were during the peak of the crisis in April, while in the south of the country they are still much lower at around six per cent.

In the North West there are now an average of 107 people admitted to hospital with coronavirus every day, along with 94 per day in the North East. Both figures are the highest seen since May and do not show signs of slowing. For comparison, the rates at their peak for each region were around 2,900 and 2,600 per day, respectively.

On the other hand in London, where officials are reportedly discussing tougher measures, there are just 34 admissions per day – down from an average 39 on September 25 and just 4.5 per cent of the level seen at the peak of the crisis in April. And in the South West, which has been least badly hit throughout the pandemic, just eight people are sent into hospital each day – six per cent of the peak number.

The same picture is true of the numbers of people dying of Covid-19. 171 of the 219 deaths recorded in the third week of September (78 per cent) all came from the three worst-hit regions – the North East, North West and the Midlands.

Statistics have shown that coronavirus cases appear to rise in most areas that get put under local lockdown measures, raising questions about how well they work at containing smaller outbreaks.

But Professor Neil Ferguson, whose work influenced the Government to start the first UK-wide lockdown in March, said today that the situation in Britain would ‘probably be worse’ if officials were not taking the whack-a-mole approach. He said there is still a risk that the NHS could become overwhelmed if cases aren’t stopped – even if infections have started to come under control it can still take weeks for people to get sick enough to need hospital treatment.

The Department of Health yesterday announced a huge 12,594 new cases of Covid-19 after a weekend that saw Public Health England admit it had messed up a spreadsheet that meant 16,000 positive tests weren’t counted last week. 

In other coronavirus developments today:

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock was hounded for claiming cancer patients will only be guaranteed treatment if Covid-19 stays ‘under control’;
  • Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales spiked by 55% with 215 victims last week – but are still only a fraction of the 8,800 recorded during the darkest seven-day spell of the crisis in April and account for just 2% of fatalities from all causes;
  • Number 10 refused to rule out SHUTTING pubs after Professor Lockdown Neil Ferguson warned it might be the only way to keep schools open;
  • ALL lectures for thousands of students at Manchester’s two universities will be held ONLINE from tomorrow due to Covid, as 4,000 undergraduates have now tested positive for virus across UK;
  • UK ‘is heading for three-tier lockdown announcement THIS WEEK’: PM prepares new system of regional rules with Liverpool and Newcastle on alert for tougher curbs;
  • Hospitalisations are 6% of peak levels in the South but 30% in the North and deaths have flattened in all but the North West, North East and the Midlands, analysis shows. 

It came as Nicola Sturgeon announced new restrictions would be announced for Scotland tomorrow, to come into effect from Friday.

But the First Minister used her daily press conference to say the measures to be revealed at Holyrood would not amount to another full lockdown.

She said the new measures will not include travel restrictions on the whole country – though such restrictions may sometimes be necessary in ‘hotspot’ areas – and the public will not be asked to stay in their own homes.

Speaking at the daily briefing in Edinburgh, she said schools will not be closed ‘wholly or even partially’, and the Scottish Government will not ‘shut down the entire economy’ or ‘halt the remobilisation of the NHS’.

‘We are not proposing another lockdown at this stage,’ Ms Sturgeon said. ‘Not even on a temporary basis.’

Neil Ferguson – known as ‘Professor Lockdown’ – warned this morning that pubs could have to shut altogether in parts of England to keep schools open.

The Westminster government’s Covid modelling guru said the extra cases added to the UK’s tally after an Excel blunder painted a ‘sobering’ picture of the outbreak.

He said it was not clear that the government could contain the virus while keeping children in secondary schools – and suggested that the wider population will have to ‘give up more’ to maintain the education provision.

That could include shutting bars and restaurants altogether, as well as extending the October half-term for a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to break transmission chains.  

However, the problems the PM would face in pushing through such restrictions was laid bare with Conservatives threatening a bid to strike out the existing measures, including the Rule of Six and the 10pm closing time for pubs. 

Asked if more restrictions are coming for Liverpool and Newcastle, the Prime minister’s official spokesman said today: ‘We keep the data under constant review by looking at a wide range of data in terms of the number of positive cases per 100,000 people, also the number of hospitalisations, the number of people who are moved into intensive care units and also sadly the number of deaths.

‘We have always set out that if there is a need to go further on a local basis then we won’t hesitate to do what is required to protect the NHS and protect lives.’

An NHS source revealed last night to the The Sun they had been told another Scottish lockdown was coming. They added: ‘We’ve been told to expect it from 7pm on Friday.’ Figures published for the first time yesterday show 43 per cent of all cases across Scotland last week were in only two council areas – Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Testing centres, like this one in Glasgow, have seen a steady stream of traffic going inside

Testing centres, like this one in Glasgow, have seen a steady stream of traffic going inside

Coronavirus social distancing measures seen being observed at a restaurant in Edinburgh

Coronavirus social distancing measures seen being observed at a restaurant in Edinburgh

Cancer patients will only be guaranteed treatment if Covid-19 stays ‘under control’, Matt Hancock sensationally claims

Cancer patients will only be guaranteed treatment if Covid-19 stays ‘under control’, Matt Hancock claimed today as he faced a roasting from MPs over an Excel spreadsheet blunder that has potentially led to tens of thousands of Britons being unaware they are infected with the virus.

The Health Secretary claimed that it was ‘critical for everybody to understand the best way to keep cancer services running is to suppress the disease’, suggesting that hundreds of thousands of patients may face delays to planned surgery and chemotherapy, if the outbreak continues to spiral.

Vital operations were cancelled and patients missed out on potentially life-saving therapy in the spring because tackling Covid-19 became the sole focus of the health service, instead of cancer and other cruel diseases. 

Almost 2.5million people missed out on cancer screening, referrals or treatment at the height of lockdown, even though the NHS was never overwhelmed — despite fears it would be crippled by the pandemic.

Experts now fear the number of people dying as a result of delays triggered by the treatment of coronavirus patients could even end up being responsible for as many deaths as the pandemic itself.

Surgeons have worriedly called for hospital beds to be ‘ring-fenced’ for planned operations during the pandemic, to avoid the upheaval of spring where patients faced a ‘tsunami of cancellations’ as the health service focused on battling coronavirus. 

But in the House of Commons today, Mr Hancock warned Covid-19 could once again disrupt cancer treatment and told MPs that controlling the virus would allow the NHS to ‘recover the treatment that we need to for cancer and other killer diseases’.

He said: ‘It’s critical for everybody to understand that the best way to keep cancer services running is to suppress the disease, and the more the disease is under control the more we can both recover and continue with cancer treatments. 

Labour also viciously tore into Mr Hancock’s latest blunder, which saw officials miss 16,000 positive test results because of a cataclysmic Excel error. Around 50,000 of their contacts are estimated to have gone un-traced. 

Firing on all cylinders after the his counterpart failed to answer exactly many of them have now been traced, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘So, essentially there are thousands of people who have been exposed to the virus who are probably wandering around not knowing they’ve been exposed and could be infecting people, and he cannot even tell us if they’ve been traced.’ 

No 10 admitted this afternoon that just 63 per cent of the ‘missing’ Covid-19 cases had now had their contacts traced, with 37 per cent still yet to be contacted. Assuming an average of three contacts per person, the delay means there could be at least 22,000 people still moving around as normal without taking any precautions despite being exposed to the virus.

It sparked renewed calls for Ms Sturgeon to avoid imposing draconian restrictions on parts of the country with low virus rates. 

But a recent Government report warned there could be another 100,000 job losses by the end of the year.

 Tim Allan, of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘Talk of a further blanket lockdown is unacceptable to Scottish businesses.

‘It would damage consumer and business confidence, which have already taken an unprecedented economic hit throughout this crisis.

‘Returning to national lockdown measures will take our economy back to square one – we simply cannot continue to keep switching the lights of the economy on and off. It risks not just jobs but the wellbeing of entire communities.

‘Instead, we should focus on using the evidence we have to target problem areas. The data the Scottish Government now has is sophisticated and detailed and will show in which environments and geographical areas the virus is spreading.

‘We know the virus will be with us for a long time. We must learn to manage it so we can carry on with our lives and protect livelihoods while keeping the risk of transmission as low as possible.’

New data published by Public Health Scotland puts five councils in the ‘red alert’ category as they have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over the past week: Glasgow, Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire.

Out of Scotland’s 32 council areas, 43.4 per cent of all cases were in only two, Glasgow and Edinburgh, between September 27 and October 3. In Glasgow, there were 1,224 cases – or 193 per 100,000 people – while in Edinburgh there were 750 cases, or 143 per 100,000.

There was not a single positive case in Orkney or Shetland. Moray had only five cases per 100,000, Aberdeenshire 14, Clackmannanshire 15, Perth and Kinross 20 and 26 in Angus.

Murdo Fraser, Tory MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: ‘I don’t believe there needs to be general nationwide restrictions when you see figures like this.

‘We saw a local lockdown in Aberdeen when there was a recent spiking of cases there. If, as has been suggested, we see more restrictions introduced in coming days, then I feel it is essential that they are targeted at specific problem areas, instead of right across the country.’

Asked yesterday if blanket measures will be introduced, Ms Sturgeon said that would be one of the ‘key considerations’.

She added: ‘If we feel there are further restrictions needed, are they needed nationwide or are they needed on a local or regional basis? We haven’t taken a decision on that.

‘Although we’re seeing in West Central Scotland and in Lothian particularly high numbers of cases and levels of infection, it would be wrong to suggest we’re not seeing rising infection in pretty much every part of the country. We are.’ Ms Sturgeon said that on most days over the past week there have been cases in every mainland health board area, as well as some islands.

She added: ‘There is a rising tide of infection across the country, albeit it is higher in some parts than in others.

Scotland can be seen to have had increased infections that a lot of certain parts of England

Scotland can be seen to have had increased infections that a lot of certain parts of England

‘Part of our consideration about restrictions also requires us to take account of not just reacting to a problem that is there, but also are you wiser to take preventative action in areas where it might not look like there is as big a problem now, but if you act you can stop a problem developing.’ 

Meanwhile, parts of the UK – including a number of university cities – could be plunged into local lockdown within days after ‘missed’ Test and Trace data belatedly revealed soaring infection figures.

Cities including Sheffield and Oxford are among a dozen areas which have seen their coronavirus infection figures soar following the ‘computer glitch’, which meant 16,000 cases were missed off Public Health England’s reporting system.

Residents in Nottingham, which has two universities, have reportedly been told to brace for lockdown measures, according to the Telegraph.

The city, which is home to Nottingham University and Nottingham Trent University, was previously not on the Government’s Covid ‘watch list’. 

But the updated data reveals the city would have been one of the worst areas in the country last week when compared with the pre-adujsted figures. 

Steve Baker

Neil Ferguson

Neil Ferguson (right) – known as ‘Professor Lockdown’ – said pubs might need to close to keep schools open. Steve Baker (left) is leading a Tory revolt against the existing restrictions

Professor Lockdown warns pubs might close to save schools as PM faces Tory mutiny

The government’s Covid modelling guru today warned pubs could have to shut altogether to keep schools open – as Boris Johnson faces a Tory revolt against the 10pm curfew.

Neil Ferguson – known as ‘Professor Lockdown’ – said the extra cases added to the UK’s tally after an Excel blunder painted a ‘sobering’ picture of the outbreak.

He said it was not clear that the government could contain the virus while keeping children in secondary schools – and suggested that the wider population will have to ‘give up more’ to maintain the education provision.

That could include shutting bars and restaurants altogether, as well as extending the October half-term for a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to break transmission chains.  

However, the problems the PM would face in pushing through such restrictions was laid bare with Conservatives threatening a bid to strike out the existing measures, including the Rule of Six and the 10pm closing time for pubs.

Anger has been growing on the Tory benches over the government’s refusal to exempt younger children from the Rule of Six – as happens in Scotland – while many believe that the curfew is causing more harm than good by fueling revelry on the streets and house parties. 

The Department for Health insist the new figures do not impact its watch list or alter current restriction in the area, according to the paper. 

 It comes as new figures today revealed that cases are rocketing in some of the North’s biggest cities.

Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Nottingham have all seen huge jumps, in some instances to a rate of 500 cases per 100,000 people.

That triggered a fresh round of frenzied speculation about tougher local lockdowns yesterday, with the threat of further restrictions later this week. 

Manchester’s weekly rate more than doubled to 2,927 in the week to October 2 – equal to almost 530 cases per 100,000 people. 

Liverpool was not far behind, with cases per 100,000 jumping from 306 to 487 in a week.

Cases in Sheffield almost trebled from just over 100 per 100,000 to 286. In Newcastle, the rate leapt from 268 to 435.

Many of the biggest rises are in cities with large student populations.

Mr Hancock said outbreaks on campuses would not necessarily lead to tougher restrictions for the wider community if they could be contained.  

Meanwhile, Covid contact tracers were last night desperately trying to hunt down tens of thousands of potentially infectious Britons after the full impact of the IT blunder was laid bare.

Ministers admitted yesterday that officials had managed to get in touch with only half of the 16,000 left off the Government’s daily tally of confirmed virus cases last week.

Estimates have suggested these people could have as many as 50,000 potentially infectious contacts needing to be traced and told to isolate.

The 697 positive cases confirmed yesterday across Scotland amounted to 12.8 per cent of newly tested patients. The number of people in hospital with the virus increased by eight, to 218, while those in intensive care remained unchanged at 22, and there were no new deaths.

Ms Sturgeon said there were more young people testing positive than at the start of the pandemic, but warned more older people had been catching the virus in recent weeks.

She said: ‘This is a very important point, and actually one of the key points in our consideration of next steps in the days to come.’

‘It risks wellbeing of entire communities’

In the UK it is predicated that a number of university cities could be put into local lockdown days after a test and trace counting blunder rocked the infection logging system. 

Cities including Sheffield, Leeds and Oxford are among a dozen areas which have seen their coronavirus infection figures soar following the ‘computer glitch’, which meant 16,000 cases were missed off Public Health England’s reporting system.

Residents in Nottingham, which has two universities, have reportedly been told to

The Department for Health insist the new figures do not impact its watch list or alter current restriction in the area.

It came as it was revealed cases were rocketing in some of the North’s biggest cities.

Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Nottingham have all seen huge jumps, in some instances to a rate of 500 cases per 100,000 people.

That triggered a fresh round of frenzied speculation about tougher local lockdowns yesterday, with the threat of further restrictions later this week.

Manchester’s weekly rate more than doubled to 2,927 in the week to October 2 – equal to almost 530 cases per 100,000 people. 

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