Britain today confirmed another 1,940 cases of coronavirus in the biggest surge for more than three months, with May 30 the last time so many people were diagnosed with the virus.
There are 1,530 people testing positive, on average, each day – a jump of 30 per cent in one week. The seven-day rolling average has been steadily increasing since reaching record-low numbers in mid-July.
Despite this, scientists say the soaring number of tests and still-falling hospitalisations show that a second wave is not incoming, and that a better testing system is simply picking up more young people who only get mildly ill and weren’t getting tested before.
A further 10 people are confirmed to have died across all settings, according to the Department of Health, taking the total to 41,537. Most are expected to be in England, considering none were reported by the individual health agencies of Wales or Scotland. One was in Northern Ireland.
The fact that deaths continue to fall – the seven day average is today 37 per cent lower than it was last Friday – also suggests that Britain is not staring down the barrel of a crisis like the one that struck in March and April. Instead, as different groups of people get infected and the threshold for getting a test is lower, the fatality ratio now should remain low.
Professor Carl Heneghan, a medicine expert at the University of Oxford, said this week: ‘What we are seeing is a sharp rise in the number of healthy people who are carrying the virus, but exhibiting no symptoms… They are being spotted because – finally – a comprehensive system of national test and trace is in place.’
The number of tests being carried out has increased by 20 per cent from the start of July to now. But the number of positive results has only crept up by only 0.3 per cent in the same period, suggesting new cases are a combination of more tests, and only a slight rise in infections in hotspots.
It comes as Government scientists today warned the Covid-19 reproduction rate was still likely above one across the UK, meaning that the virus is not totally under control and local outbreaks have the potential to spill into larger ones.
The R – the average number of people each virus patient infects – needs to stay below one or the outbreak could start to grow exponentially. But SAGE estimates it is still hovering between 0.9 and 1.1, having remained unchanged from last week. However, the UK’s low infection rate means small outbreaks can skew the estimate upwards.
SAGE also predicts that Britain’s outbreak is now growing by up to two per cent per day, after being in retreat for months following lockdown.
But other official data published today from swabbing thousands of random people across England suggests the number of people catching the coronavirus each day is at a steady level, and has been since July.
Some 27,100 people in England are thought to be infected at any one time – 0.05 per cent of the population or one in every 2,000 people – according to the Office for National Statistics, which said today: ‘Evidence suggests that the incidence rate for England remains unchanged.’
In other coronavirus developments today:
- There was outrage as British holidaymakers fleeing Portugal pay nearly £1,000 to fly home to beat quarantine – only for ministers to KEEP the country on its safe travel list;
- Germany has nearly DOUBLED its testing rate to screen thousands of returning air passengers – as Britain continues to hold out against airport checks;
- Is Boris’s back-to-work drive starting to work? 57% of employees say they travelled to the office in past seven days with many balancing WFH with commuting – a rise from 49% the week before;
- Grant Shapps accuses Scotland and Wales of ‘jumping the gun’ by putting Portugal on quarantine list and blames THEM for mass confusion among holidaymakers;
- Russia’s Covid vaccine might actually WORK: Moscow scientists claim ‘Sputnik V’ jab that stunned scientists when Putin gave it world-first approval proved safe and effective in early clinical trials.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Sam Blanchard and Connor Boyd