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UK records 23,065 cases as daily infections rise by just 8% in a week

Confusion over the true scale of Britain’s second wave of Covid-19 was sparked today after official data showed the UK’s daily cases are not spiralling out of control — despite warnings from a Government-funded surveillance study that infections may be doubling every nine days. 

Department of Health bosses recorded 23,065 new coronavirus cases, which is up just 8.6 per cent on the 21,242 posted last Thursday. 

But Imperial College London scientists have estimated 96,000 people are getting infected every day in England alone and that the outbreak is rapidly growing, piling more pressure on Boris Johnson to act to prevent another crisis like what the nation suffered in the spring.

Cambridge University academics added to the confusion today by estimating that the true number of daily cases in England stands at around 55,000, with the researchers saying outbreaks are ‘growing at a slower pace in most regions’.   

Estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which are considered the most reliable indicator for the true scale of the Covid-19 crisis, say 35,200 cases occurred in England every day in the week ending October 16 — but that the speed cases were growing had slowed. Fresh predictions will be published tomorrow afternoon.

Health chiefs today also announced another 280 deaths, as the number of victims continues to rise. Britain tipped the 100 fatalities a day mark for the first time in four months on October 13. It can take infected patients several weeks to fall severely ill, meaning there is a lag between a spike in cases and deaths. 

It comes as it was revealed tonight that West Yorkshire will be placed under Tier Three restrictions from Monday morning, meaning 10million people will be living under the toughest curbs — which ban socialising with anyone you don’t live with — after this weekend. Ministers also dragged another 16 authorities into Tier Two, as Britain creeps ever closer to a de facto lockdown. 

Boris Johnson is facing calls from his top scientific advisers to adopt tough action nationwide to cope with the growing outbreak. Startling projections released last night have piled even more pressure on the Prime Minister to act, warning at least 100,000 people are catching the virus every day in England alone. SAGE has also warned that the second wave could be deadlier than the first.  

Scientists have warned the second wave of coronavirus could result in 85,000 deaths, almost double the number of victims from the first epidemic

ARE CASES REALLY GOING UP SO QUICKLY?

An array of statistics last week suggested cases were no longer growing as quick as they once were.

Office for National Statistics, which tracks the size of the Covid-19 outbreak through thousands of random swab tests, revealed that the number of people catching the coronavirus in England alone every day stood at 35,200 last week.

Despite being a 26 per cent rise on its previous estimate and double that of a fortnight ago, top scientists insisted the figure was ‘hopeful’ because the speed of growth has clearly dropped. 

Cases doubled between October 2 and 9, then jumped by two thirds (62 per cent) the following week to 27,900 per day, according to the ONS data, which is considered the most reliable indicator of the true size of the crisis. 

The data echoed comments by the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, who said last week there were signs local lockdowns were starting to work and that curves were beginning to flatten in some areas.

Separate Department of Health data showed the number of daily cases by specimen date — the date the test was taken — had jumped by just 9 per cent from October 5 to October 12, rising from 15,310 to 16,683 in a week. 

But then cases appeared to take off again, increasing by 23.5 per cent from 17,589 on October 15 to 21,717 a week later. 

Since then, the outbreak appears to have slowed again, with the speed of growth in the most recent three days being 1.6 per cent, compared to around 7.7 per cent over the previous three days. 

Testing has stayed at a consistent level over the past two weeks, suggesting the current swab programme may be spotting as many Covid-19 cases as it can — with a test positivity rate above five per cent. 

The UK’s testing system will always miss asymptomatic and mild cases of the virus, which make up the vast majority of infections. Those who have no symptoms have no reason to request a test.

The current scheme is only swabbing 300,000 people a day — despite warnings it would need to be ramped up for the winter to cope with the surge in people who have coughs and colds.

As a result of the lack of capacity, NHS and social care workers are being prioritised, as are people with severe symptoms and those approached by Test and Trace. 

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WHICH AREAS WILL FACE NEW TIER TWO RULES? 

  • East Riding of Yorkshire 
  • Hull
  • North East Lincolnshire 
  • North Lincolnshire 
  • Dudley
  • Staffordshire
  • Telford and the Wrekin
  • Amber Valley
  • Bolsover
  • Derbyshire Dales
  • Derby City
  • South Derbyshire
  • High Peak, Derbyshire
  • Charnwood
  • Luton
  • Oxford City
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today: ‘We continue to see a worrying rise in cases right across the country, and it is clear decisive action is needed.

‘We have agreed with local leaders to move more areas into the High Local Covid Alert Level this week.

‘These restrictions are challenging for us all, but it is only by working together and following the rules that we will bring down the rates of infection. 

SCOTLAND ‘CAN’T RULE OUT NATIONAL LOCKDOWN’ 

Nicola Sturgeon today admitted she cannot rule out imposing nationwide coronavirus restrictions on Scotland ‘in the next few weeks’ as she unveiled her new five-tier plan for local lockdowns.

The First Minister this afternoon revealed which parts of Scotland will be in which tier when her new rules come into force from Monday.

She urged people to ‘dig in and stick with it’ but she conceded rising infection rates could ultimately force her to ditch her regional approach in favour of a blanket national crackdown.

Ms Sturgeon’s tier system goes from a rating of zero which broadly equates to normal life, all the way up to Level Four where people would be subject to the kind of lockdown restrictions imposed across the UK at the end of March.

The majority of local authority areas will start in Level Three which means people who live there will be prohibited from socialising indoors or outdoors with anybody they do not live with.

Ms Sturgeon said: ‘We are, as of now, making progress in Scotland. But cases are still rising and the situation we face is fragile. And across Europe the pandemic is accelerating.

‘So I cannot rule out a move back to nationwide restrictions in the next few weeks, including at Level Four.

‘That could happen if, for example, cases in parts of the county start to rise faster again, to the extent that controlling spread with travel restrictions will not be effective.’

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‘A failure to act now will only lead to longer disruption and greater economic damage. I want to thank everyone who is playing their part to break the chains of transmission across the country. We will beat this virus, but we must stick together as we enter the winter months.’  

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and the leaders of the seven metropolitan councils had been discussing the prospect of Tier Three measures ahead of a gold command meeting with Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday.

Mr Street said this afternoon that although no decision has yet been made on moving the region into Tier Three ‘the situation is becoming very serious and if further measures are to be avoided we must bring the rate of infection down’.

He said hospitals were coming under intense pressure as cases continued to rise, more people are dying and the virus is spreading again in the elderly and vulnerable.

He said discussions were taking place about what would be needed from a Tier Three support package, adding that it was ‘critical we get this support agreed in advance’.

He added: ‘I know many will question why there is talk of Tier Three despite our current rate of infection being lower than those in other parts of the country when they entered the highest tier of restrictions.

‘But if our cases continue to rise we must protect our hospitals and by acting before our cases reach the levels seen elsewhere we have a better chance of the restrictions working.’

Local authority sources said it was ‘pretty unlikely’ infection rates would come down enough in the next few days, and that Tier Three would be imposed ‘by the end of next week or the start of the following week’. 

The case rate per 100,000 is 222 in the West Midlands, though Birmingham and its biggest boroughs are seeing rapid growth in infections.

Political leaders in the North East are scheduled to meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss whether the region should be placed in the highest category of measures. The move would affect the Tier 2 boroughs of Northumberland, Newcastle, Sunderland, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead and County Durham.

Despite the North East having a case rate of 303.5 per 100,000 in the last seven days, leaders there have claim cases have already started to stabilised and say the NHS locally could cope. 

Elsewhere, Oxford City Council today announced Oxford will be moving into Tier Two from Saturday morning. 

Leaders in West Yorkshire have refused to accept the harshest bracket of lockdown until they are given assurances about what support would be offered to businesses.

Ms Hinchcliffe said the ‘unflinching’ Government had told council leaders it would be a ‘template package’ with no room for negotiation.

However, the Bradford leader, who is also the chairwoman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning she would not describe negotiations as a ‘stand-off’.  

She said: ‘It is clear from our conversations so far that Government are unflinching in their resolve to put Bradford and West Yorkshire into Tier 3. 

‘Our local residents and our local businesses need certainty about whether we are going into Tier Three or not.’

LONDON’S R RATE IS ‘WORST IN ENGLAND’

Coronavirus is spreading fastest in London, according to a new study which claims the R rate in the capital is almost as high as three and infections are doubling every three days, compared to 1.6 and nine days across England.

Research by Imperial College London, which today estimated a staggering 100,000 people are catching Covid-19 every day, found the city has a ‘scary’ rate of spread.

The paper predicted that the R rate – the average number of people each carrier infects – is higher than two in London, the South East, East and South West, which are mostly not subject to any local lockdowns.

And of those places London has the highest prevalence of the virus at 0.89 per cent, suggesting more than 80,000 of its nine million people are infected at any given moment.

It suggested the R in London is 2.86, meaning those 80,000 people carrying the virus at the time of the study could be expected to infect another 229,000. The possible range of the R is between 1.47 and 4.87, they said.

And cases are doubling every three days in the city, compared to every nine days nationwide. The city is currently in a Tier Two local lockdown.

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Labour MP for Batley and Spen, Tracy Brabin said on Twitter: ‘There is a lack of transparency from the Government about how we enter/exit Tier 3, and it is unfair on every person living in West Yorkshire to be left in the dark on this. I have been pushing the Government to show us that they are following the science.’

The political debate is taking place against a backdrop of dramatically rising hospital admissions for Covid-19 with NHS figures showing the Yorkshire and Humber region with the fastest growing rates in the England.

Earlier this week, the trust which runs Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital said only essential operations will go ahead after the number of Covid-19 patients being treated went beyond the number treated at the peak of the virus’s first wave. 

Other hospitals, including Bradford Royal Infirmary, have reported similarly high figures.

The latest official statement on the talks from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, issued on Wednesday evening, said: ‘The latest data on infections and hospital admissions shows a continued rise, and we have repeated our calls to Government that further local action needs to be taken, including strengthening community engagement and test and trace.

‘There will be further discussions with Government in the coming days. We are absolutely committed to implementing the most effective measures to protect the people and economy of West Yorkshire.’

Meanwhile, political leaders in the North East said they will ‘resist any attempt’ by the Government to force a Tier Three lockdown on the region.

Council chiefs and business figures said infection rates are levelling off under the current Tier Two rules and a move to Tier Three is therefore unnecessary. 

The local authority leaders said in a statement that they were ‘continuing to lobby for additional support for all those businesses doing their utmost to operate in a Covid-secure manner in these difficult times without the need to move to Tier Three’.  

However, Birmingham and the West Midlands now look set to move into Tier Three ‘within days’ amid rapidly filling intensive care beds and rising cases 

Mr Street and council leaders – including Ian Ward, the leader of Birmingham City Council – are involved in behind closed doors talks with the Government to negotiate a business support package.  

Mr Ward told Birmingham Live today: ‘Case rate numbers are going up, and we have to do something more. We will be moving into Tier 3.’ 

It comes after ministers last night confirmed all of Nottinghamshire will enter Tier Three from Friday, with off-licences banned from selling alcohol after 9pm, beauty salons ordered to shut and shisha banned.  

Number 10 said Nottinghamshire will be dragged into the toughest bracket to fight its growing outbreak, which has forced hospitals to start cancelling cancer operations to make space of Covid-19 patients. 

Around 1.2million people living in the county will fall under the harshest lockdown, after four of eight local authorities initially escaped the most stringent restrictions. 

Local officials have agreed to adopt a series of other tougher measures on top of the standard Tier Three measures, including shutting down cafes, restaurants and social clubs that don’t serve ‘substantial’ meals. Betting shops, car boot sales and auction houses must also close.

Across the entire county, alcohol sales will be banned after 9pm if booze is bought to consume off premises. However, alcohol can still be purchased in pubs and bars alongside a substantial meal up until 10pm. 

Tattoo parlours, tanning and nail salons, piercing services and saunas must close — but all hairdressers, barber salons, cinemas, theatres, ice skating rinks can remain open, under the improvised rules.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We have seen infection rates rising sharply across Nottinghamshire, and in close collaboration with local leaders we have agreed on a package of local measures to stop this virus in its tracks.

‘I understand how difficult life is under these restrictions and the impact they have on families and businesses, but we never take these decisions lightly.’ 

Elsewhere, Bristol sparked confusion yesterday by designing its own Tier One Plus level. The move — the first of its kind — will see eight Covid-19 marshals on the street to ensure compliance with national measures, more support for test and trace and messaging to encourage people to stick to the rules.

The Government’s decision to stick with its local lockdown approach has faced increased scrutiny after both Germany and France announced they are reimposing nationwide lockdown rules. 

Mr Jenrick told Sky News that the Government is resisting a second national shutdown as he argued local lockdowns remain the ‘best way forward’. 

‘We will continue with our localised but proportionate approach on taking action where the virus is strongest but you can see from those figures that the virus is in a bad place in all parts of the country,’ he said. 

‘The approach of trying to bear down on it where it is most concentrated I think continues to be the best way forward because despite the fact the virus is rising across the country it is very concentrated in some places nonetheless.’

Mr Jenrick said it is the Government’s ‘very firm view’ that a national ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown would be the wrong approach as he warned ‘you can’t have a stop-start country’.

He said: ‘We don’t want to create a second national lockdown. We know that has some effect on bearing down on the virus but we also know it’s immensely disruptive in other regards to people’s lives and livelihoods and broader health and wellbeing, so we will do everything we can to avoid that situation.’

Mr Jenrick said the new lockdowns in other European nations will have ‘long-term scarring effects’ on people.

He added: ‘At the moment it is our very firm view that that is not the right approach for the country, it is not a short-term measure, it is likely to be for a number of weeks.

‘If it succeeded it is likely then needed to be repeated regularly – you can’t have a stop-start country where businesses are closing, people are losing their jobs, then they are having to restart again, the harm to people’s mental health and broader wellbeing, I think, would be immense.’ 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the Government will ‘try everything in our power to try to avoid a blanket national lockdown’.

The latest official study, released last night, was conducted by Imperial College London researchers and based on random swab testing of 86,000 across England between October 16 and 25

The latest official study, released last night, was conducted by Imperial College London researchers and based on random swab testing of 86,000 across England between October 16 and 25

The latest official study, released last night, was conducted by Imperial College London researchers and based on random swab testing of 86,000 across England between October 16 and 25

Rates of the disease also increased across all age groups, with the greatest rise in those aged 55-64 at 1.20 per cent, up three-fold from 0.37 per cent in a week. In those aged over 65, prevalence was 0.81 per cent, having doubled from 0.35 per cent. Rates remained highest in 18 to 24-year olds at 2.25 per cent

Rates of the disease also increased across all age groups, with the greatest rise in those aged 55-64 at 1.20 per cent, up three-fold from 0.37 per cent in a week. In those aged over 65, prevalence was 0.81 per cent, having doubled from 0.35 per cent. Rates remained highest in 18 to 24-year olds at 2.25 per cent

Rates of the disease also increased across all age groups, with the greatest rise in those aged 55-64 at 1.20 per cent, up three-fold from 0.37 per cent in a week. In those aged over 65, prevalence was 0.81 per cent, having doubled from 0.35 per cent. Rates remained highest in 18 to 24-year olds at 2.25 per cent

Imperial researchers sent swabs to 85,971 volunteers in England between October 16 and October 25. In total, 863 were positive (1.28 per cent) - more than double the 0.6 per cent the week before. Pictured: How cases have surged since summer, according to findings from all six phases of the study

Imperial researchers sent swabs to 85,971 volunteers in England between October 16 and October 25. In total, 863 were positive (1.28 per cent) - more than double the 0.6 per cent the week before. Pictured: How cases have surged since summer, according to findings from all six phases of the study

Imperial researchers sent swabs to 85,971 volunteers in England between October 16 and October 25. In total, 863 were positive (1.28 per cent) – more than double the 0.6 per cent the week before. Pictured: How cases have surged since summer, according to findings from all six phases of the study

Mr Jenrick admitted that much of the nation has been left ‘fatigued’ after months of having to live under Covid-19 restrictions. 

Asked if there was a problem with adherence to the measures, he told BBC Breakfast: ‘In large parts of the country, people have been in some form of restriction now since March.

TIER THREE RULES APPEAR TO BE WORKING IN THE NORTH WEST

Tier Three restrictions are working and causing Covid-19 outbreaks to tail off across badly hit parts of England, official figures suggest amid claims the R rate in the North has been driven into reverse.

The harshest measures — including the closure of pubs, bars and gyms and advice against travel — appear to have triggered falls in the infection rates in three out of six local authorities in the Liverpool area eight days after they were imposed, but failed to stop the virus in the others which have seen a resurgence.

And in Lancashire they halted surging infections in 11 of 12 areas seeing a surge just five days after being brought in, with case rises grinding to a near-halt in four authorities where coronavirus outbreaks were doubling roughly every fortnight. 

Experts insist it is too early to tell if the tough measures have truly worked, but the promising figures will add to growing pressure for tougher lockdown rules to be used in the South, which has largely escaped anything harsher than the Tier One social distancing laws. 

Scientists today warned infections are ‘speeding up’ in the South and a worrying Government-funded study by Imperial College London found that the outbreak appears to be growing fastest in London and the South West, where rules are comparatively lax, and slowest in the Northern regions with the toughest restrictions. 

Although the situation is not as bad yet in the southern regions – there are fewer people testing positive or being admitted to hospital – ministers face growing pressure to act early and stop surging outbreaks before they become disastrous. 

Dr David Nabarro, of the World Health Organization (WHO), praised the UK Government’s decision to impose local measures today, claiming they have been ‘very effective’ in some parts of the North.

But he warned in the South infections are ‘speeding up’ on BBC Radio 4, adding: ‘This will mean of course the Government in Britain, like other governments in Europe, will be thinking “do we need to have some sort of over-arching position in the country, with tougher restricions?”‘. 

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‘There are places, particularly in the Midlands and the North, that have been in something akin to what we describe as Tier Two for a very long time.

‘And people are feeling fatigued, they are feeling tired and sometimes frustrated by those restrictions.

‘So I do think that we have to all see the seriousness of the present situation and we all do need to redouble our efforts to try to abide by the guidelines.’

Scientists increased pressure for a national lockdown last night amid suggestions that up to 85,000 people could die in a second wave of coronavirus.

The new ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ came in a leaked SAGE committee paper as Government-commissioned research also revealed nearly one million people in England are likely to currently be infected with coronavirus. 

The Imperial College London research said there were an estimated 96,000 new infections a day, cases were doubling every nine days and the national R rate was up to 1.6.

The official study warned the country was at a ‘critical stage’ in the second wave and urgent action was needed to get the R number below one. 

The leaked SAGE document, first reported on by The Spectator, outlines a situation where deaths could remain above 500 a day for at least three months after Christmas, peaking at 800 a day. 

A death toll of 85,000 would be almost double the current figure of 45,365. 

A Government spokesman said: ‘As a responsible government we continue to prepare for a wide range of scenarios, including the reasonable worst case scenario.

‘We have made significant strides in our approach – we have provided the NHS with an extra £3 billion in funding to help it continue to provide high quality care as we head into winter, treatments like dexamethasone have been proven to save lives and there is promising progress in finding a vaccine through government-backed scientific research.’

It emerged yesterday that Mr Johnson had been presented with SAGE analysis suggesting the second wave could be deadlier than the first, with many in the group of scientists believing the Government needs to take drastic action now.

But business leaders, campaigners and MPs have pleaded with Mr Johnson to resist a second national lockdown as they warned that it would wreak economic carnage and devastate thousands of businesses.

Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret and Itsu, said another lockdown would be ‘impossible’, adding: ‘Society will not recover if we do it again to save a few thousand lives of very old or vulnerable people. 

‘The young people of this country will be paying for this for the next 20 to 30 years. It’s terrible what’s happening. Just because France does this with its socialist government, doesn’t mean we have to.’

Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the CBI, said that while public health came first, there could be ‘no hiding from the potentially devastating impact on firms and individuals if Tier Three is rolled out nationally’.

Hotelier Sir Rocco Forte added: ‘A circuit breaker would be a complete disaster. The industry is already at death’s door. It would bankrupt industry and bankrupt the Government.’

John O’Reilly, chief executive of Rank Group, which owns 77 Mecca bingo halls and 51 Grosvenor casinos, said: ‘For hospitality businesses like ours, this is death by a thousand cuts. 

‘The long lockdown, local restrictions, the 10pm curfew and now renewed lockdowns through Tier Three are causing enormous economic damage to businesses.’

Data shows that Britain is actually already in a worse situation than SAGE’s worst case scenario predicted.  

UK ‘OUT-PACING’ SAGE’S WORST CASE SCENARIO 

Britain’s second coronavirus wave is already on track to surpass the Government’s ‘worst case scenario’ projection of 85,000 deaths, concerning data suggests.

In a newly-published leaked paper that was circulated through Downing Street over summer, SAGE – the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – warned that daily Covid-19 fatalities could rise to as many as 100 a day by the end of October.

But there are at least twice as many Covid-19 deaths occurring in the UK currently, with the seven-day rolling average number of victims currently at 217. There were 310 fatalities recorded on Wednesday and 367 the day before, in the highest daily toll since the end of May.

 

The SAGE projection also forecast about 18,000 new infections by this time of the year and fewer than 500 daily hospital admissions. However, the current reality of the UK’s second wave is even more dire than the scientists predicted.

By October 21, the most recently published NHS figures showed there were 1,227 Covid-19 sufferers admitted to hospitals, more than double the ‘worst case scenario’. 

There are, on average, 21,864 new people infected with the disease every day, according to official figures from the Department of Health. But this is widely considered a vast underestimate of the true number of cases.

The central testing programme is missing asymptomatic and mild cases of the virus, which make up the vast majority of infections, and is struggling to ramp up swabbing capacity needed to catch these people.

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In a newly published leaked paper that was circulated through Downing Street over summer, SAGE – the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – warned that daily Covid-19 fatalities could rise to as many as 100 a day by the end of October.

But there are at least twice as many Covid-19 deaths occurring in the UK currently, with the seven-day rolling average number of victims currently at 217. There were 310 fatalities recorded on Wednesday and 367 the day before, in the highest daily toll since the end of May.

The SAGE projection also forecast about 18,000 new infections by this time of the year and fewer than 500 daily hospital admissions. However, the current reality of the UK’s second wave is even more dire than the scientists predicted.

By October 21, the most recently published NHS figures showed there were 1,227 Covid-19 sufferers admitted to hospitals, more than double the ‘worst case scenario’.

There are, on average, 21,864 new people infected with the disease every day, according to official figures from the Department of Health. But this is widely considered a vast underestimate of the true number of cases.

The central testing programme is missing asymptomatic and mild cases of the virus, which make up the vast majority of infections, and is struggling to ramp up swabbing capacity needed to catch these people. 

Data today showed NHS Test & Trace has continued its downward spiral as they showed the bungling system is reaching fewer Covid-19 cases than when records began in May.

Department of Health statistics also revealed that of those the system did reach, it is taking even longer to track down their contacts.

The beleaguered system, once touted as world-leading, has lurched from failure to failure since schools and offices returned in September. 

But despite the mounting disasters, Test and Trace bosses bragged the system had actually got better. They said it reached 60.3 per cent of all contacts – 171,674 – of all the people Covid-19 cases had spent time with in the week ending October 21, a slight rise from the previous week’s 59.6 per cent – 149,961.

But this still means four in ten were missed – streets away from the minimum of eight in ten SAGE said must be told to self-isolate in order to prevent another full-blown outbreak and second lockdown. 

And one scientist said the figure is likely to be even worse because call handlers failed to get hold of almost 25,000 infected people in England – or 19.5 per cent – a surge from the almost 19,000 – or 19.3 per cent – missed the week before.  

SAGE adds it is ‘vital’ contacts are reached quickly, as those carrying the virus can be infectious for up to 24 hours before they start displaying symptoms.

Yet the latest figures published by the Department of Health reveal Test and Trace is still trailing expectations on this measure after it only reached 28.9 per cent of contacts transferred to its system within 24 hours compared to 31.8 per cent the previous week. 

NHS TEST & TRACE FAILS TO REACH 25,000 PATIENTS 

Test and Trace has continued its downward spiral as official figures today showed the bungling system is reaching fewer Covid-19 cases than when records began in May.

Department of Health statistics also revealed that of those the system did reach, it is taking even longer to track down their contacts.

The beleaguered system, once touted as world-leading, has lurched from failure to failure since schools and offices returned in September. 

But despite the mounting disasters, Test and Trace bosses bragged the system had actually got better. They said it reached 60.3 per cent of all contacts – 171,674 – of all the people Covid-19 cases had spent time with in the week ending October 21, a slight rise from the previous week’s 59.6 per cent – 149,961.

But this still means four in ten were missed – streets away from the minimum of eight in ten SAGE said must be told to self-isolate in order to prevent another full-blown outbreak and second lockdown. 

And one scientist said the figure is likely to be even worse because call handlers failed to get hold of almost 25,000 infected people in England – or 19.5 per cent – a surge from the almost 19,000 – or 19.3 per cent – missed the week before.  

SAGE adds it is ‘vital’ contacts are reached quickly, as those carrying the virus can be infectious for up to 24 hours before they start displaying symptoms.

Test and Trace missed more people who had tested positive for coronavirus than ever before, and hence more contacts. This graph shows that even among contacts that were reached, it still took longer for tracers to get hold of them and tell them to self-isolate after the positive case was identified

Test and Trace missed more people who had tested positive for coronavirus than ever before, and hence more contacts. This graph shows that even among contacts that were reached, it still took longer for tracers to get hold of them and tell them to self-isolate after the positive case was identified

Test and Trace missed more people who had tested positive for coronavirus than ever before, and hence more contacts. This graph shows that even among contacts that were reached, it still took longer for tracers to get hold of them and tell them to self-isolate after the positive case was identified

Test and Trace only reached 60 per cent of contacts in the week ending October 21. But scientists said that, because many positive cases were missed, the figure may be as low as only one in four contacts being reached

Test and Trace only reached 60 per cent of contacts in the week ending October 21. But scientists said that, because many positive cases were missed, the figure may be as low as only one in four contacts being reached

Test and Trace only reached 60 per cent of contacts in the week ending October 21. But scientists said that, because many positive cases were missed, the figure may be as low as only one in four contacts being reached

Local health protection teams reached 97 per cent of contacts, compared to just above 50 per cent for contact tracers in call centres

Local health protection teams reached 97 per cent of contacts, compared to just above 50 per cent for contact tracers in call centres

Local health protection teams reached 97 per cent of contacts, compared to just above 50 per cent for contact tracers in call centres

Further delays in turning around swabs were recorded. Scientists have said positive cases must be identified rapidly to curb the virus - but many are waiting longer than 48 hours for their test results

Further delays in turning around swabs were recorded. Scientists have said positive cases must be identified rapidly to curb the virus - but many are waiting longer than 48 hours for their test results

Further delays in turning around swabs were recorded. Scientists have said positive cases must be identified rapidly to curb the virus – but many are waiting longer than 48 hours for their test results

Distance travelled to get a swab fell to 2.8 miles in the latest data, Department of Health said

Distance travelled to get a swab fell to 2.8 miles in the latest data, Department of Health said

Distance travelled to get a swab fell to 2.8 miles in the latest data, Department of Health said

Yet the latest figures published by the Department of Health reveal Test and Trace is still trailing expectations on this measure after it only reached 28.9 per cent of contacts transferred to its system within 24 hours compared to 31.8 per cent the previous week.

A total of 126,505 people tested positive for Covid-19 at least once in the week to October 21 – a 25 per cent increase from the previous week and the highest since Test and Trace began publishing its figures in May.

After the positive swab they are transferred to the Test and Trace system which then gets in touch and asks them to provide details of their contacts. 

For cases managed by local health protection teams, they reached and asked to self-isolate 97 per cent of contacts – or 15,711 of 15,237.

But for the call-centre based contact tracers only reached 58.1 per cent  – or 156,317 of 268,990.

Only 22 per cent of people testing positive for the virus at regional, local or mobile testing units – termed ‘in-person’ tests – received their results within 48 hours.

This is up from the previous week – when it was 13.7 per cent – but there is a wide gulf between the figure and Boris Johnson’s promise to get all tests completed within 24 hours by June.

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Source: Daily Mail |World News

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