CORONAVIRUS infections have increased by 63 per cent in a fortnight – with 4,900 new cases every day, Boris Johnson said today.
Announcing the Government is hitting the brakes on the easing of lockdown, the PM said there were around 3,000 daily cases in the week of July 14, compared to 4,900 now.
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Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Johnson vowed he would not “stand by and let this virus threaten more heartache across our country”.
It comes as the R rate was updated today, showing parts of the country are creeping above the crucial figure of 1 – suggesting the epidemic could be growing again.
The R rate is now between 0.8 and 0.9 in the UK, up from 0.7 to 0.9 last week. It could be as high as 1.1 in the South West and North West.
Infections rise for first time since May
Meanwhile new ONS stats, published today, show that there were around 0.78 new Covid infections for every 10,000 people.
This equates to around 4,200 new cases per day from July 20 to July 26.
And compares to around 3,000 infections in the week ending July 14.
Around 1 in 1,500 are currently thought to have the virus based on test results, compared with 1 in 1,800 on July 15 and 1 in 2,000 at the end of June.
The Prime Minister said it is the first time since May that we have seen infections increase.
“We should now squeeze the brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control. We must keep our focus and we can’t be complacent,” he added.
The reopening of leisure centres, casinos and bowling alleys has now been pushed back, along with small wedding receptions.
The PM said these, and other measures that were due to be lifted tomorrow, will now be put on ice for two weeks.
The ONS figures refer to cases recorded in private households and do not take into account people who have the virus in hospital or care home settings.
The ONS says: “Our findings suggest that there is now some evidence to suggest that the incidence of new cases has increased in recent weeks, following a low point of 0.34 new infections per 10,000 people followed for one day (95% credible interval: 0.25 to 0.46) during the week from 15 to 21 June.
“This follows an initial decrease in the incidence rate between May 2020, when the study began, and June 2020.”
Last night it was announced that several areas in the North of England would be banned from having visitors to their home.
The sudden new rules – which mean that people can still go to work and even visit shops and cafes but cannot go inside other homes – have left the public reeling.
But the ONS states that there is not enough evidence to suggest that there are differences in the percentage of people testing positive for the virus on a regional basis.
The report states: “Looking at trends over time, there is not enough evidence to say with confidence that Covid-19 infection rates have changed over the most recent six-week period in any region.
“There is some limited evidence that rates in London may have increased in recent weeks, however, because the credible intervals are wide we cannot be certain.”
Looking specifically at antibody data and the ONS states that 6.2 per cent of people who have provided blood sample tests have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies.
This equates to around 1 in 16 people.
Looking on a broader spectrum and the model estimates that around 2.8 million individuals in England would test positive for antibodies if they were to receive a test.
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The ONS report states: “One way the body fights infections like COVID-19 is by producing small particles in the blood called antibodies.
“It takes between two and three weeks for the body to make enough antibodies to fight the infection but once a person recovers, antibodies remain in the blood at low levels, although these levels can decline over time to the point that tests can no longer detect them.
“Having low levels of antibodies can help to prevent individuals from getting the same infection again, although other parts of the immune system can also protect people.”
Antibodies are measured in order to understand who has already had Covid-19.
It is not yet known whether a person who has antibodies is immune from catching the virus again.