Covid-19 cases in Britain have risen again with the average number of infections jumping by 14 per cent in a week as scientists today urged ministers not to panic and said the UK needs to ‘learn to live’ with the disease.  

Department of Health chiefs announced another 763 people tested positive for the virus, taking the rolling seven-day average to 726. In comparison, the rate was 697 yesterday, 638 last Wednesday and has been on the up for a fortnight amid fears of a resurgence. 

And the rate is 33 per cent higher than the four-month low of 546 recorded three weeks ago on July 8, just days after top experts warned of an inevitable spike prompted by the relaxation of strict lockdown rules. 

It comes as the head of the British Medical Association warned the Government is not doing enough to stop a second wave of the virus. Dr Chaand Nagpaul told MPs that mixed messaging around key preventative measures including mask-wearing and social distancing was behind infections spiking in the last week.

Boris Johnson is said to be ‘extremely concerned’ by outbreaks ‘bubbling up’ both at home and across Europe and fears the virus could make a resurgence in a fortnight. 

But ministers were today urged not to panic yet, with one scientist saying the spike ‘was to be expected’ because of lockdown being eased — which saw millions of Britons flock to pubs to celebrate ‘Super Saturday’. 

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, argued that the UK has never been free from infection and warned ‘the number of cases measured today are not comparable to March’.

Business leaders today reacted warily to the threat of tighter restrictions being introduced over the rise in cases, with top firms saying it is ‘vital’ crippled economies get the chance to recover this summer.

Meanwhile, a further 83 more coronavirus deaths were recorded in Britain — taking the official number of victims to 45,961. But no fatalities were posted in Scotland or Northern Ireland. 

Around 66 people are succumbing to the illness each day, on average. But the fatality curve is no longer flattening as quickly as it was, with the rate having barely changed in the past 10 days. It can take patients several weeks to die, meaning any spike in deaths won’t be immediately apparent in government figures.

In other coronavirus developments today:

  • Oldham has overtaken Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, official figures revealed;
  • Ministers signed a multi-million pound deal with pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for 60million doses of another potential Covid-19 vaccine;
  • Scientists have been given £4.3 million to investigate why black and Asian people are more likely to die from Covid-19;
  • Ten people have caught the coronavirus linked to a Staffordshire pub where 200 drinkers were crammed into beer garden ‘like sardines’. 

OLDHAM OVERTAKES LEICESTER WITH THE SECOND HIGHEST COVID-19 INFECTION RATE 

Oldham has overtaken Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, official figures revealed today.

NHS statistics today showed Oldham recorded 54.3 coronavirus cases for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26.

The weekly infection rate for the Greater Manchester town has risen by 191 per cent. In comparison, Leicester’s outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2.

Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week. 

Local officials have pleaded with locals to abide by tough restrictions implemented yesterday, in a desperate bit to prevent a full-blown lockdown.

Council bosses have now urged all of the borough’s 235,000 residents to not let any visitors into their home for at least two weeks.

It puts Oldham at odds with the rest of England, after lockdown rules were relaxed earlier this month to let people to stay overnight with loved ones.

Everyone living in the Greater Manchester borough has also been asked to keep two metres apart from friends and family when seeing them outside.

Current government advice for the rest of the nation recommends a one metre-plus rule — but people should keep two metres apart where possible. 

Katrina Stephens, the director of public health in Oldham, said the spike was not due to more testing but a ‘genuine increase’ in transmission, Manchester Evening News reported.

The central and western districts have mostly been affected, and there are ‘increasingly’ cases in the younger population, particularly among 20 to 40-year-olds, Ms Stephens said at a media briefing yesterday.

A significant proportion of recent cases involve multiple individuals testing positive within a household.

Councillor Arooj Shah confirmed they had seen a rise in cases among Oldham’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, which account for up to two thirds of overall new cases, New Post Leader reported.

Around 20 per cent of Oldham’s population are from Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage, compared to the 2.8 per cent average in England and Wales.

 Officials noted the new guidelines would be ‘particularly tough’ for the Muslim community who were preparing to celebrate Eid on Friday.

Government statistics show the official size of the UK’s outbreak now stands at 300,692. 

But the actual size of the outbreak, which began to spiral out of control in March, is estimated to be in the millions, based on antibody testing data. 

The deaths reported by the Department of Health today cover those in all settings, including hospitals and care homes. 

The data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.

And the figure does not always match updates provided by the home nations. Department of Health officials work off a different time cut-off, meaning daily updates from Scotland as well as Northern Ireland are always out of sync.

And the count announced by NHS England every afternoon — which only takes into account deaths in hospitals — does not match up with the DH figures because they work off a different recording system.

For instance, some deaths announced by NHS England bosses will have already been counted by the Department of Health, which records fatalities ‘as soon as they are available’. 

NHS England today posted 14 deaths in hospitals across the country. These include victims who were both confirmed and suspected to have the virus, while the Department of Health only records lab-confirmed Covid-19 deaths.

Wales reported five deaths in all settings after two days of zero fatalities. The country has reported zero deaths on 13 days this month as the virus slowly fizzles out. 

Department of Health figures showed almost 100,000 tests were either carried out or posted yesterday. The number includes antibody tests for frontline NHS and care workers. 

The head of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, warned today that the UK was not doing enough to prevent a second wave of the epidemic.

He demanded ministers lay out a coherent strategy for how they plan to prevent a Covid-19 resurgence from battering the UK in the winter, when other illnesses are rife and the NHS is vulnerable to being overwhelmed.

Dr Nagpaul told a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus: ‘At the moment we’re not doing everything we should in trying to contain the virus. 

‘If I look even at something as simple as our messages on social distancing: we’re told that social distancing is still two metres, or one metre plus.

‘Do you think any member of the public understands what one metre plus means? What does the plus mean? Many don’t really understand this because it’s not clear and they’re not social distancing.’

Dr Nagpaul slammed ministers for not enforcing mask-wearing, saying it risked sending the message they were optional.

He added: ‘If you want to suppress a virus you don’t just make an announcement and then leave people with free will whether to wear them… you then follow that up with a very systematic approach to make sure that happens.

‘What I mean by suppressing is you take an attitude that says: we want to do absolutely everything to make sure the infection doesn’t spread. That needs a much more robust approach.’

He warned: ‘The point is that I’m not sure that sense of clear, single-minded determination to do everything we can is being done and that’s what I mean by suppressing.

The most up to date figures show the number of new cases is rocketing upwards in Spain. It announced 6,361 new cases over the weekend, up from 4,581 the previous weekend. France announced 2,551 new coronavirus cases on Monday

The most up to date figures show the number of new cases is rocketing upwards in Spain. It announced 6,361 new cases over the weekend, up from 4,581 the previous weekend. France announced 2,551 new coronavirus cases on Monday 

£4MILLION FUNDING TO INVESTIGATE BAME AND COVID-19 LINK 

Scientists have been given £4.3million to investigate why black and Asian people are more likely to die from Covid-19.

UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research have funded six new research projects which will examine the link between coronavirus and ethnicity.

Emerging evidence suggests BAME (black and minority ethnic) people are nearly twice as likely to die of Covid-19 than those who are white, after taking into account the age of the individuals and other sociodemographic factors.

The six projects are:

  • One will explore the impact of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, specifically on migrant and refugee groups.
  • Another will look for ways to create targeted, digital health messages with help from key voices within BAME communities.
  • The £2.1 million UK-Reach project, which received the largest proportion of the fund, will calculate the risk of contracting and dying from Covid-19 for ethnic minority healthcare workers. 
  • One of the research projects will seek to determine the risk of infection and death from Covid-19 in individual ethnicity groups, combining more than 40million patient GP records in England to create one of the largest Covid-19 cohorts in the UK.
  • Another project will use data from the UK Biobank, which contains biomedical information of 500,000 individuals, to examine whether the increased risk of developing severe Covid-19 in minority ethnic groups can be explained by differences in health status, lifestyle behaviours such as physical activity, and environmental factors such as social inequality.
  • The final research project aims to help enable the designers of clinical trials to consider the factors that may reduce the inclusion of BAME participants, such as culture, or trial information and procedures. 

‘To really take the attitude that yes, we can resume normal living – you can go out, you can do things, but make sure that we have very clear messages about what is expected of both the public and workers to stop the spread.

‘There are measures that can be taken and at the moment I think I see too many examples of potential spread, just walking out into the High Street and peering through shop windows. 

‘If a hair dresser wears a visor without a mask, that’s not going to suppress the virus. Has that message gone to all employers as to what needs to be done to stop the spread of the virus?

‘If you look at the figures at the moment, the last ONS figures from last Friday, the weekly figures, the infection rate has increased.

‘We’re now seeing about 2,700 new cases a day compared to 2,500 the week before. And so I think now is the time we must be much more robust and rigorous about how we mitigate the spread.’

It comes after Boris Johnson today warned there are ‘signs of a second wave’ of Covid-19 in Europe as the Prime Minister defended the UK’s decision to reimpose quarantine rules on Spanish travel.   

Leading experts insisted today that ministers don’t need to panic yet about rising coronavirus cases in Britain, after it was revealed that Boris Johnson fears a second wave could start within a fortnight.

A senior government source told the Mail the Prime Minister was ‘extremely concerned’ by outbreaks ‘bubbling up’ both at home and across Europe. A spike in infections have been recorded in Spain, triggering a last-minute decision to place the holiday hotspot on the UK’s travel quarantine list, Germany and France.

A Downing Street source said: ‘The PM is extremely concerned by what he’s seeing abroad and fears we could be seeing the same thing here in a fortnight.

‘People have got to realise we are still in the middle of a pandemic. He wants to go further on opening things up and getting people back to work, but he knows it’ll be his head on the block if things go wrong.’

But Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia, moved to reassure the nation today and said: ‘Give us a couple of weeks before we start panicking.’ 

He told MailOnline cases in the UK are drifting up but not escalating quickly and revealed it was possible ‘we could last out August’ without the need to adopt any blanket measures to prevent another crisis.

One scientist warned the spike ‘was to be expected’ because of lockdown being eased earlier this month, when millions of Britons flocked to pubs to celebrate ‘Super Saturday’ on July 4. 

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said: ‘The UK has never been free from infection, we have had 100’s of cases per day every day since March. However, the number of cases measured today are not comparable to March.

Today, Oldham overtook Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, with 54.3 coronavirus cases recorded for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26. In comparison, Leicester's outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2. Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week

Today, Oldham overtook Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, with 54.3 coronavirus cases recorded for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26. In comparison, Leicester’s outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2. Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week

TEN PEOPLE CATCH CORONAVIRUS IN PUB WHERE 200 DRINKERS WERE CRAMMED INTO BEER GARDEN 

Ten people have caught coronavirus at a pub in a market town where up to 200 drinkers were filmed crammed into beer garden ‘like sardines’.

Punters and staff who were at the Crown and Anchor in Stone, Staffordshire, between July 16 and 18 are now being told to urgently get swabs done.

Anyone who has been in close contact with visitors to the pub is being encouraged to have a test at a new centre set up 350 yards away at the Crown Street car park.

And people who were out in Stone on one of those nights who have since displayed symptoms despite not going to the pub have also been told told to get a test.

One customer at the pub – which has now shut due to overcrowding – who tested positive is also said to have held a private gathering, causing a further spread.

‘The increase in cases was to be expected, as the lockdown eases, the opportunity for the virus to spread will increase.

‘The government intervention that will make the most difference in keeping the lid on this flare up, is the isolation of positive cases.

‘I remain concerned that not enough effort has been put into isolation measures. Its self-defeating to vilify young people who are infectious but otherwise well for not wanting to keep making disproportionately heavy financial and life sacrifices.’

He added: ‘What I fear is that if we fail to check this flare up, we will head into the winter months with a high level of circulating virus.

‘With the normal winter illnesses and greater indoor living, we could then see a return to exponential growth in Covid-19 cases that overwhelms the NHS and requires complete lockdown. Many scientists have consistently emphasised that we have only short time to get our systems ready to prevent this.’ 

Ministers have been warning of a potential second wave of the pandemic this winter but now fear it could come sooner. On a visit to Nottingham yesterday, Mr Johnson — who earlier this month played down the prospect of another national lockdown — said Britons must not drop their guard.

He added: ‘The most important thing is for everybody in all communities to heed the advice, to follow the advice, not to be spreading it accidentally and get it right down and we’ll be able to ease the restrictions across the country.

‘But clearly we now face, I’m afraid, the threat of a second wave in other parts of Europe and we just have to be vigilant.’ 

But a video of a Staffordshire pub showing some 200 people crammed into a beer garden ‘like sardines’ in a clear breach of coronavirus rules suggests some Britons have, indeed, dropped their guard. 

British Medical Association chief says the Government is NOT doing enough to stop a second wave of coronavirus and sending out ‘mixed messages’ about masks and social distancing 

The UK Government is not doing enough to stop a second wave of coronavirus, the head of the British Medical Association warned today amid fears the virus is making a comeback.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul told MPs that mixed messaging around key preventative measures including mask-wearing and social distancing was behind infections spiking by nearly 30 per cent last week.

He demanded ministers lay out a coherent strategy for how they plan to prevent a Covid-19 resurgence from battering the UK in the winter, when other illnesses are rife and the NHS is vulnerable to being overwhelmed.

Dr Nagpaul told a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus: ‘At the moment we’re not doing everything we should in trying to contain the virus. 

‘If I look even at something as simple as our messages on social distancing: we’re told that social distancing is still two metres, or one metre plus.

‘Do you think any member of the public understands what one metre plus means? What does the plus mean? Many don’t really understand this because it’s not clear and they’re not social distancing.’

Dr Nagpaul slammed ministers for not enforcing mask-wearing, saying it risked sending the message they were optional.

He added: ‘If you want to suppress a virus you don’t just make an announcement and then leave people with free will whether to wear them… you then follow that up with a very systematic approach to make sure that happens.

‘What I mean by suppressing is you take an attitude that says: we want to do absolutely everything to make sure the infection doesn’t spread. That needs a much more robust approach.’

He warned: ‘The point is that I’m not sure that sense of clear, single-minded determination to do everything we can is being done and that’s what I mean by suppressing. 

‘To really take the attitude that yes, we can resume normal living – you can go out, you can do things, but make sure that we have very clear messages about what is expected of both the public and workers to stop the spread.

‘There are measures that can be taken and at the moment I think I see too many examples of potential spread, just walking out into the High Street and peering through shop windows. 

‘If a hair dresser wears a visor without a mask, that’s not going to suppress the virus. Has that message gone to all employers as to what needs to be done to stop the spread of the virus?

‘If you look at the figures at the moment, the last ONS figures from last Friday, the weekly figures, the infection rate has increased.

‘We’re now seeing about 2,700 new cases a day compared to 2,500 the week before. And so I think now is the time we must be much more robust and rigorous about how we mitigate the spread.’

The market town is today fighting a coronavirus outbreak linked to the local pub where at least ten people were infected.

Punters and staff who were at the Crown and Anchor in Stone between July 16 and 18 are now being told to urgently get swabs done, as well as anyone who has been in close contact with visitors to the pub.

A new testing centre has been set up 350 yards away at a car park, and people who were out in Stone on one of those nights who have since displayed symptoms despite not going to the pub should also now get a test.

Local resident Ayrron Robinson, who has lived opposite the pub in Stone for four years, filmed the clip from his window after becoming concerned about an apparent lack of social distancing.

He said: ‘If we do have to go into local lockdown then the pub has a lot to answer for.’  

Several places in England are under the careful watch of health officials who are trying to squash cases after a recent spike, including Leicester, Oadby and Wigston, Blackburn and Darwen, and Luton.

Today, Oldham overtook Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, with 54.3 coronavirus cases recorded for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26.

The weekly infection rate for the Greater Manchester town has risen by 191 per cent. In comparison, Leicester’s outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2.

Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week. 

Local officials have pleaded with locals to abide by tough restrictions implemented yesterday, in a desperate bid to prevent a full-blown lockdown like that seen in Leicester currently. 

Two thirds of new Covid-19 cases in Oldham are among Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, the council said, and a significant proportion of recent cases involve multiple individuals testing positive within a household. 

It comes as scientists are given £4.3million to investigate why black and Asian people are more likely to die from Covid-19.

UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research have funded six new research projects which will examine the link between coronavirus and ethnicity.

Emerging evidence suggests BAME (black and minority ethnic) people are nearly twice as likely to die of Covid-19 than those who are white, after taking into account the age of the individuals and other sociodemographic factors. 

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England and head of the National Institute for Health Research, said: ‘With evidence showing that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are more severely affected by Covid-19, it is critical that we understand what factors are driving this risk to address them effectively.

‘The diverse range of projects funded will help examine this association in detail, so that new treatments and approaches to care can be developed to target the ethnicities most at risk.

‘This research will have embedded patient and public involvement with black, Asian and minority ethnic groups at all stages of the research.’

In other developments in the battle against Covid-19, a multi-million pound deal has been struck in the UK for 60million doses of another potential Covid-19 vaccine – the fourth so far.

Number 10’s agreement with pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur mean the UK has access to a total of 250million doses — enough to allow everyone in Britain to have four each, if they work.

Scientists have yet to trial GSK/Sanofi’s vaccine on humans and studies to prove it works won’t begin until September. Other contenders purchased by Number 10 have already shown signs of promise in tests.

The Government’s deal with GSK/Sanofi allegedly costs £500million, The Sunday Times reported earlier this month, which will be paid in stages as the vaccine progresses through clinical trials.

It is not expected to reach phase 3 trials — the last phase of testing before it can be approved for use on humans — until December.

Earlier this month, the Government secured a deal of 30million doses from BioNTech, which is working with Pfizer, and 60million from the French firm Valneva.

It is not clear exactly how much the Department of Health has paid for the vaccines, but it announced in May a £131million fund to develop vaccine-making facilities.

And it has given Valneva — whose vaccine is understood to be in the pre-clinical stages of development — an undisclosed amount of money to expand its factory in Livingston, Scotland.

A further agreement has been signed with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford for their jab, which is in the phase 3 stage of trials, to produce 100million doses for the UK.

The Government is also working with Imperial College London to speed up their developments. Its jab started human trials in June.

Britain last month began shoring up stocks of experimental jabs all over the world in its spread-betting approach in the hope that at least one of them will pay off.

Health chiefs hope the Oxford University vaccine it has agreed to buy — considered one of the front-runners in the global race to end the pandemic — could even be ready before the end of the year.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘Our scientists and researchers are racing to find a safe and effective vaccine at a speed and scale never seen before. While this progress is truly remarkable, the fact remains that there are no guarantees.

‘In the meantime, it is important that we secure early access to a diverse range of promising vaccine candidates, like GSK and Sanofi, to increase our chances of finding one that works so we can protect the public and save lives.’ 

source: dailymail.co.uk

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