The UK has recorded another 15,116 coronavirus cases and 81 more deaths, meaning infections have trebled in a fortnight, as 10 million people in the north brace for tougher restrictions on Monday as part of a new three-tier alert scheme – despite claims by leaders that case numbers are falling.
The figure is a rise from yesterday’s 13,864 cases, as well as from last Saturday’s 12,827 cases and the 6,739 recorded a fortnight ago.
However, the number of deaths dropped from the 87 recorded yesterday, though it has increased from this time last week, when there were 53 coronavirus-related deaths in the UK, and 39 deaths recorded a fortnight ago.
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 also rose from 3,660 to 3,837 in 24 hours – though the number of people in ventilator beds, 442, remained exactly the same as yesterday.
Earlier, in separate data, NHS England reported that 60 people with COVID-19 had died in hospitals in the space of 24 hours – all aged between 41 and 93 years old. All but five of them had known underlying health conditions.
The week-on-week infection figure rise comes despite last Saturday’s data spiking following a ‘technical issue’ with the Government’s reporting system – which saw cases almost double from the 6,968 recorded the day earlier.
The issue was later revealed to be a computer glitch, which meant 16,000 positive cases were left off between September 25 and October 2.
The figures were added in across the following few days, most notably on Sunday last week, when figures shot to a record high of 22,061 cases – more than at the peak of the pandemic in late April.
But many experts say the daily totals for testing are not comparable to the same totals at the peak of the pandemic when the country’s testing programme was much smaller.
They believe as many as 100,000 people were catching the virus every day at the peak of the pandemic.
The latest figures mean there have been 590,844 cases across Britain since the start of the pandemic and 42,760 deaths – though separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 58,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
In other coronavirus news today:
- Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson slams ‘Saint’ Rishi Sunak’s new furlough scheme for being ‘not generous’ enough and suggests more money would have been provided if it was in the South;
- Coronavirus hospital admission in England are at the level they were in March and hospitals in the North make up almost two-thirds of patients;
- Doctors warn face masks should be mandatory inside and outside in England to curb the spread of infections;
- A think-tank warns furlough mark two could cost the Treasury more than £2.4billion in six months as it estimates 444,000 hospitality employees will qualify for the scheme;
- Revellers are filmed spilling into London’s Leicester Square and dancing together with no regard for social distancing measures after 10pm curfew;
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan warns the capital could face tougher restrictions as leafy Richmond becomes the worst-hit borough – but one report suggests the R rate in the city is below 1;
- Scottish drinkers have been making the most of their last day at the bar before pubs shut down at 6pm for two weeks in a bid to crackdown on coronavirus;
- Britain’s R rate drops as it is estimated to be at 1.5 based on three-week-old data and the UK records 13,864 positive cases of coronavirus yesterday as the disease continues to surge.
Separate figures show there were 3,225 Covid-19 patients in hospital in England as of Saturday, up from 2,194 a week ago, while 396 Covid-19 hospital patients were in ventilation beds, up from 307 a week ago.
A total of 513 patients with confirmed Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in England on Thursday, compared with 386 a week earlier.
In Scotland, 397 Covid-19 patients were in hospital as of Friday, up from 175 a week earlier, with 33 in ventilation beds, up from 19 a week earlier.
In Wales, 291 Covid-19 patients were in hospital as of Friday, up from 218 a week earlier, with 32 in ventilation beds, the same figure as a week earlier. Wales has also reported a further 627 cases and another 21 coronavirus-related deaths.
In Northern Ireland, 132 Covid-19 patients were in hospital as of Thursday, up from 95 a week earlier, with 10 in ventilation beds as of Friday, up from seven a week earlier.
Data on patients with Covid-19 is not comparable across the UK due to differences in the way the figures are reported.
The latest figures come as local leaders have urged the Government not to punish the North East of England with draconian lockdown restrictions forcing the closure of pubs and bars, as it is claimed the number of daily new coronavirus infections in the region has begun to fall.
Stringent measures saw almost two million Britons barred from mixing with others from outside their household in private homes, gardens, pubs and restaurants on September 18. But Gateshead council leader Martin Gannon has claimed today that – when students are removed from the figures – the number of new cases in Newcastle and Gateshead is now starting to drop.
‘We have evidence in the region – if you take the spike in students out – even in central Newcastle and central Gateshead we’re beginning to see a reduction in the number of new cases,’ he said. ‘What we’re saying is the measures are working at the moment.’
He bolstered calls from local chiefs across the region for ministers to dump their ‘counter-productive’ plans to pull the shutters down on local pubs and bars, arguing current restrictions are all that’s needed.
Gateshead recorded a 72 per cent spike in its infection rate over the last seven days, according to Public Health England’s weekly surveillance report, rising from 129.4 to 221.7 cases per 100,000 people. In Newcastle the rate rose by 90 per cent, from 250.5 to 475 per 100,000.
More than 1,800 students tested positive for the virus in the North East on Thursday, with 1,003 at Newcastle University, 619 at Northumbria University and 219 at Durham University. Northumbria University also said 770 students had tested positive on October 3. Students in affected halls of residence have been asked to quarantine.
Official Government data shows that the number of positive cases identified each day in the local areas appears to be declining. But experts have warned this may be due to delays in processing swabs, as labs continue to work through a backlog of samples.
The Government is expected to unveil its ‘three-tier’ lockdown system on Monday, with the North East, North West and Nottinghamshire all predicted to fall under the strictest category of measures – which will see bars and pubs forced to close but restaurants allowed to stay open until 10pm.
The Prime Minister’s chief strategic adviser Sir Edward Lister wrote to northern MPs following a meeting with leaders from the North on Friday to warn it was ‘very likely’ the region would be hit with tougher coronavirus restrictions. But northern leaders have complained they have not been consulted and said that more restrictions will lead to further ‘resistance and confusion’.
As the UK counts down to the new lockdown system:
The above graph shows the number of patients in mechanical ventilator beds in the North East and Yorkshire
COUNTY DURHAM: Cases also appear to be falling in this local area. They are shown by date the test was taken
Raising the alarm over tougher lockdown restrictions, Gateshead leader Mr Gannon told the Today programme they are fighting against tightened rules because the evidence suggests current measures are stemming the rising tide of infections.
‘We’re opposing further restrictions in the North East on the basis of the scientific evidence,’ he said.
‘We have evidence in the region – there is a spike in students but if you take the students out – even in central Newcastle and central Gateshead – we’re beginning to see a reduction in the number of new cases.
‘So our argument is that even with the mixed messaging, even with the confusion and frustration, the measures that are in at the moment are beginning to work.
He pleaded: ‘Work with us, give us more time, help us to win confidence and persuade people – those really good people in Newcastle who want to do the right thing.’
The Labour leader also revealed he had a meeting with senior Government advisers and 40 other North East leaders this week to discuss the new restrictions, but no national politicians were present.
He said they made ‘very clear arguments’ to halt the closure of hospitality venues on the basis of evidence they had gathered.
‘I think new measures would be counter-productive,’ he said. ‘We had three different sets of regulations in 10 days which caused huge resistance and confusion.
‘Our argument is that even with the mixed messaging, even with the confusion and frustration, the measures that are in at the moment are beginning to work.’
It comes as the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham called on MPs to ‘reject’ Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme because it will lead to ‘severe redundancies’ across the North of England – and said hospitality employees should receive 100 per cent of their wages.
Under furlough mark two, workers can claim two-thirds of their wages up to £2,100 from the UK Government if coronavirus restrictions require their employers to pull down the shutters.
But Mr Burnham said the scheme would ‘surrender our residents to hardship in the run-up to Christmas and our businesses to potential failure’.
Speaking at a press conference also attended by mayors from Liverpool and North Tyne, he said the new scheme and further restrictions combined would bring an economic blow that would ‘level down’ the North.
‘It will level down the North of England and widen the North-South divide,’ he said.
‘We are today writing to all MPs who represent constituencies in the North of England. What we are asking our MP colleagues to do is to support what our MPs are saying and support constituents who are plunged into hardship by these measures.
‘We are asking them to bring about a vote to allow MPs either to support or – what we hope – to reject this package and require the Government to return with a package that responds fully to all of the points I’ve just made.’
His words were echoed by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson on the Today programme this morning, who blasted the scheme as ‘not generous’ and accused the Government of showing ‘disdain’ for the North.
Hammering the Government for not going far enough, Labour party member Anderson told the Today programme: ‘(The new furlough scheme) is not generous at all, it is indeed lower than the previous furlough scheme that was introduced.
Gateshead council leader Martin Gannon has revealed cases are falling in the North East
‘I just wonder that if this was in Southern areas of the country, or in London, whether it would be at this level and not at a different level. We feel, I feel personally, that the North is being treated with disdain by this Government.
‘But I guess, when you look at it, it’s better than nothing and the pressure that we’ve put on the last few weeks demanded some local furlough scheme. At least it’s now being heard’.
Mayor Anderson warned the city would likely be plunged into a ‘tier-three’ lockdown under plans to be announced by Boris Johnson on Monday. This would see the closure of pubs and bars, he said, but restaurants would be allowed to stay open until 10pm.
Liverpool’s infection rate spiked 116 per cent in the last week, according to figures compiled by Public Health England, rising from 239.3 to 517.4 cases per 100,000 people.
Mr Gannon also put forward his concerns on the furlough scheme, warning many people working in pubs, bars and restaurants – which are likely to be asked to close – will struggle to ‘put food on the table’ with just two-thirds of their wages.
He told the Today programme: ‘I know people who work in the hospitality sector and even on full pay they struggle to put food on the table for their families.
‘For Rishi Sunak, I mean he may be able to live on two-thirds of his salary, you and I, we would be able to live on two-thirds of our salary, but for many of those people who work in the hospitality sector they can’t comply with requirements. They’re not going to obey the law on the basis of two-thirds of their salary.’
The Imperial College London-led REACT study (left) estimates that more than 0.6 per cent of the population of England had coronavirus in the week up to October 5, while the ONS (right) puts the figure at around 0.41 per cent for the week ending October 1
Data shows in Fallowfield in Manchester – a thriving student suburb of the city – five per cent of people tested positive for the disease in the week ending October 2
Britain’s coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen slightly, according to the Government’s scientific advisers. They say the current R value – the number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is between 1.2 and 1.5. This is down slightly on last week’s range of 1.3 and 1.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson slammed the Government for bringing forward a furlough scheme that was ‘not generous’ enough
In a joint statement, the mayors of Greater Manchester, the Sheffield and Liverpool city regions and North Tyne said: ‘What has been announced by the chancellor today is a start but, on first look, it would not appear to have gone far enough to prevent genuine hardship, job losses and business failure this winter.’
Industry experts also denounced the package, with Greg Mulholland of the Campaign for Pubs saying: ‘The level of support announced by the Chancellor is nowhere enough to compensate pubs being forced to close.
‘Many publicans will be forced into even more debt just to survive. There is real anger when pubs have been working hard to operate safely.’
Meanwhile, the leaders of West Yorkshire councils warned another lockdown will have a ‘devastating’ effect on the town and city centres and regional economy.
In a joint letter to the Chancellor and health and housing secretaries on Friday, the leaders said that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement that workers in businesses which are forced to close under the new restrictions will have two-thirds of their wages paid by the Government was ‘not enough’.
They added: ‘Government must, for both levels two and three, provide a substantial economic package including grants and furlough – not just where businesses are mandated to close.
‘In a three-level approach, there must be significantly more support available to businesses in areas that are in either level two or level three to avoid an even deeper economic catastrophe.’
Chris Snowdon, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, told MailOnline any tightening of restrictions involving the closure of pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants will be ‘counter-productive’.
He pointed to the situation in Bolton, where cases have rocketed by 39 per cent over the past seven days to 250 per 100,000 despite heightened restrictions on hospitality.
‘I suspect that a lot of the transmission in recent weeks is from private gatherings, many of which are technically illegal,’ he said, referring to infections across the whole country.
‘The 10pm closing time led to more house parties, less social distancing. I don’t think pubs being closed is going to stop people meeting for a drink.’
He added: ‘It’s interesting that local leaders are opposed to these measures. We’ve also seen this in Spain where the Madrid Government is fighting the Spanish Government.
‘We don’t know what the (UK Government) announcement is going to be yet, but you’re always going to get cases where you have badly affected regions or towns where infections are going up sharply but have places where infections are low.
‘When you take a broad brush you are going to negatively affect people who are not enjoying any of the benefits. But the Government has decided it wants to simplify the equation.’
Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds has said that the North of England feels ‘forgotten’ due to the incoming new restrictions.
‘We’ve currently got one in four people living under localised restrictions and yet coming from the Government’s side, for example what the Chancellor’s being setting out, often it’s as if those restrictions are not in place anywhere.
‘The Chancellor didn’t mention the situation in the North and the Midlands at all in his conference speech. I had to track him, in fact one of his ministers came to talk in parliament. But some of those areas have been under restrictions for a really long time.’
A think-tank has warned the scheme could cost the Treasury £2.4billion in six months, on top of the billions spent during the national lockdown. The Resolution Foundation made the prediction after predicting more than 444,000 hospitality employees would qualify for the scheme. The second round of furlough will be reviewed in January.
In the scheme, employers will still be required to meet the cost of national insurance payments and pension contributions. There will also be more grants available up to £3,000 a month, payable in two-week installations.
It comes after slides from a Government presentation to Northern MPs – which were published after they were leaked – revealed its assertion that 30 per cent of all coronavirus transmissions may be happening in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants.
Furious MPs blasted the claim saying it was an example of ministers ‘cobbling together’ numbers to ‘justify’ their point of view – ahead of expected sweeping restrictions.
Experts from the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) also rubbished the official claim, reminding ministers that data shows less than five per cent of those contacted by NHS Test and Trace had been in close contact with another person in a hospitality venue.
They also pointed to the enforced closure of hospitality venues in Bolton and Leicester, saying it had failed to curb the spread of the disease. The latest Public Health England data reveals cases surged by 39 per cent in Bolton this week, with the rate rising to 250.6 per 100,000 people, and in Leicester they rose by 35 per cent to 120.2.
A business minister yesterday defended the Government’s ‘flimsy’ data based on fewer than 100 pubs, saying he would have used the ‘quite representative’ sample size while working in the business sector.
Nadhim Zahawi MP told LBC: ‘I used to work in the serving industry and I can tell you when you do business surveys, 98 businesses, or 100 businesses, is actually quite a representative sample. If you’re doing public opinions, 1,000 interviews is a representative sample. It’s actually a pretty robust sampling.’
And the Prime Minister’s deputy spokesman dug his heels in claiming hospitality venues account for the ‘highest rates of common exposure to Covid-19, especially for those under 30 years old’.
The Government claimed in a private press briefing yesterday that up to 30 per cent of coronavirus transmission is linked to pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. The slides were leaked – and today ministers decided to publish them in full. Above is one of the 13 slides from the press briefing
This slide, revealed today, was also shown at the briefing. It reveals how infection rates are highest among young people
His claim comes after enraged MPs slammed the Government for presenting the ‘early analysis’ figures to them, and criticised officials’ decision to include a three-month-old American study from which they cherry-picked the figures to bolster their claims.
The slides – marked ‘Cabinet Office’ – also claimed claimed food outlets and bars made up as much as 41 per cent of transmission among the under 30s. But this was in stark contrast to Public Health England’s own data, which suggested only four per cent of Covid-19 outbreaks can be traced back to the venues.
The NHS coronavirus app was revealed yesterday to have sent only one alert related to one venue since its launch two weeks ago, despite millions of check-ins and more than 16million downloads.
Shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah told Sky News this was a ‘plain contradiction’ of the Government’s claim hospitality venues were a major source, and said ministers ‘need to get a grip’.
After ministers confirmed they will not shut schools, experts have argued they have few options left in terms of where to close to reduce social interaction, which is where the virus spreads – meaning the axe may fall on the hospitality sector. Many scientists have, however, argued against tightening the measures – and urged ministers to instead try to learn how to live with the virus.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty briefed 149 MPs from the North and the Midlands yesterday to tell them that a ‘significant proportion’ of exposure to coronavirus was happening in the hospitality sector.