The UK has today confirmed a further 20,572 positive Covid tests, a drop of 11.5 per cent on last Sunday’s total.
Today’s cases – which mark a drop of 2,682 on last Sunday’s total of 23,254 – comes on the first weekend of the country’s controversial second lockdown.
A further 156 people have died after testing positive for the virus, official figures released today have revealed, bringing the UK’s total death toll during the pandemic to 49,044.
In what is sure to be a positive sign for many, today’s all-settings death toll marks a drop of 3.7 per cent on the 162 deaths reported this time last week.
It is also fewer than half the 413 deaths reported yesterday – but figures on Sunday can be low due to a delay in processing over the weekend.
Of those figures, England recorded 122 deaths, while Scotland announced three.
In Wales, 19 new deaths were reported, along with 744 new cases, as it prepares to leave its ‘firebreak’ lockdown tomorrow.
Seven deaths were recorded in Northern Ireland and an additional 420 cases.
The positive drop in case numbers is sure to add fuel to criticism against Boris Johnson’s trigger-happy lockdown put in place this week.
He pushed ahead with nation-wide restrictions – which came into place on Thursday – amid concerns rapid spread of the virus in September and October is leading to surging hospital admissions across the North of England and sparking fears the NHS could be overwhelmed again.
But the move has proven controversial as streams of data from various sources – some official and some not – seem to show that the local lockdown policy was working.
In other coronavirus news:
- Tory MPs are warning of a revolt if Boris Johnson extends England’s lockdown past December 2;
- Lorries that have passed through Denmark on their way to the UK are being turned away after Covid outbreaks at mink farms in the Scandinavian country;
- Northern Ireland’s policing college in Belfast has had to close for a deep clean after student officers tested positive for Covid-19;
- An open letter to the Prime Minister signed by 469 medics has warned England’s second lockdown is ‘causing more harm than good’.
Boris Johnson is facing a growing Tory revolt over the Government’s national coronavirus lockdown, as Britain announced 151 new Covid deaths in hospitals, a rise of just 14 compared to last week
Today’s figure come on the fourth day of England’s national lockdown, with Tory MPs warning Boris Johnson he will face a ‘massive revolt’ if he tries to extend it beyond December 2.
Measures were brought in following grim predictions that deaths could rise to 1,000 a day by December, but weekly figures have seen a rise of just 14 compared to last Sunday, when 137 deaths were recorded.
Mr Johnson has insisted it is the ‘plan’ for the England-wide curbs to come to an end at the start of next month.
But his failure to give a cast iron guarantee has spooked many Conservative MPs who believe the ‘public will not accept’ an extension of the draconian measures.
The R rate of the coronavirus dropped in five regions of England this week – except London and the South East, where it did not change – and stayed stable at between 1.1 and 1.3 in England and the UK as a whole. Last week marked a drop from 1.2 to 1.4 the week before
It came as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab denied the Government had used the ‘scariest’ data possible to try to justify the national shutdown.
A slide used at Mr Johnson’s lockdown press conference last Saturday suggested there could be up to 4,000 daily deaths by next month without further action but that number and other projections were subsequently revised down.
Mr Raab insisted this morning the Government is trying to be ‘as transparent as possible’ and that when ‘mistakes’ are made or facts change then ministers respond accordingly.
Mr Raab also said ministers ‘want to get through to December 2’ and then ‘transition back to a localised approach’.
The Prime Minister’s latest lockdown, which came into effect from Thursday, sailed through the House of Commons last week by 516 votes to 38 as some 34 Tories rebelled.
Conservative backbenchers now believe that more than 80 Tories are likely to revolt if Mr Johnson does try to keep the restrictions in place.
The regulations which underpin the new lockdown will expire on December 2 and MPs will be given a vote on what happens next.
There are fears that if infection rates are still high then the PM could be forced into trying to extend the lockdown.
Second lockdown ‘causing more harm than good,’ say top scientists
Top scientists have suggested the UK’s second wave of coronavirus has already peaked.
Professor Tim Spector, who leads the Covid Symptom Study app aiming to track the spread of Covid-19 in the UK, confirmed that there were ‘positive signs’ the country has ‘passed the peak of the second wave’.
The open letter to the Prime Minister was signed by 469 medics and is titled First Do No Harm – the medical principle that a cure must never be worse than the disease itself.
It is signed by immunologist Dr Charlotte R Bell, paediatrician Dr Rosamond Jones, consultant surgeon and Keith Willison, Professor of Chemical Biology at Imperial College.
The letter reads: ‘The management of the crisis has become disproportionate and is now causing more harm than good.
‘We urge policy-makers to remember that this pandemic, like all pandemics, will eventually pass but the social and psychological damage that it is causing risks becoming permanent.
‘After the initial justifiable response to Covid-19, the evidence base now shows a different picture.
‘The problem of functional false positive rates has still not been addressed and particularly in the context of low prevalence of disease whereby false positives are likely to exceed true positives substantially and moreover correlate poorly with the person being infectious.
‘Alongside this we have the issue that it is normal to see an increase in illness and deaths during the winter months.
‘It is notable that [the] UK death rate is currently sitting around average for this time of year. The use of the term ‘second wave’ is therefore misleading.
‘We have the knowledge to enable a policy that protects the elderly and vulnerable without increasing all other health and economic harms and which is not at the expense our whole way of life and particularly that of the nation’s children.’
The Government is facing a growing Tory backlash over its handling of the coronavirus response with MPs particularly angry at the data used by Downing Street to justify the shutdown.
One key slide projected daily deaths could hit 1,500 by December but that was subsequently revised down to a peak of 1,000 daily deaths.
Elsewhere today British ports began turning away lorry drivers who had travelled through Denmark, after an outbreak of a Covid-19 mutations at mink farms in the country.
Visitors and freight are being turned away from the UK, while returning British citizens are being told to self-isolate with their families.
The Danish Government has ordered a cull of 17 million mink after a warning that a mutation of the virus – which is less sensitive to an attack from Covid-19 antibodies – had jumped from minks to humans and infected 12 people.
Coronavirus has spread from minks to humans in hundreds of cases – but the mutant strain is restricted to just 12 infections. Scientists fear this small number could be the beginning of ‘a new pandemic starting again, this time from Denmark’.
Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen said it could pose a ‘risk to the effectiveness’ of a much-anticipated future Covid-19 vaccine as the antibodies provided by the jab may not be effective enough.
Mr Raab told Sky News the decision to impose travel restrictions on the country was a ‘precautionary measure’.
Concerns at British ports come as Northern Ireland’s policing college was forced to close for a deep clean after four student officers tested positive for Covid-19.
The PSNI College in Belfast, is expected to shut for two days after the first positive case was found on Saturday.
In addition to the four student officers who tested positive, a further 15 have been required to self-isolate.
Head of the college Chief Superintendent Emma Bond said: ‘There are robust measures in place at the college to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, however our officers and staff are also members of the community and the reality is that we face the same risks from this pandemic as all other residents of Northern Ireland.
‘We expect the college to remain closed for two days while staff work remotely.
‘Where training can be delivered remotely we will facilitate this and our student officer team is exploring options for how we can adapt to continue to deliver training to accommodate those who are self isolating.’