England records coronavirus deaths while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland suffer no new victims 


Britain today recorded another 12,594 Covid-19 cases as official statistics show the number of daily infections has more than tripled in a week.

Department of Health bosses also posted 19 more coronavirus deaths across the UK — but none were recorded in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

For comparison, just 4,044 infections and 13 laboratory-confirmed fatalities were added to the government’s toll last Monday.  

But the number of new daily cases and deaths is still nowhere near the levels seen during the darkest days of the pandemic in the spring.

Top scientists estimate at least 100,000 Brits were catching the illness each day in March but No10’s lacklustre testing programme meant millions of cases were never spotted. And more than 1,000 deaths were announced on at least nine occasions in April.

Hospital admissions are continuing to rise and are now at the highest levels since June. Some 386 newly-infected patients in England required NHS care on October 3 but the figure was in the region of 3,000 at the end of March and beginning of April. 

It comes after the UK yesterday recorded 22,000 positive tests because of an Excel bungle that led to thousands of cases diagnosed over the last week being lost in government systems.

Shame-faced Matt Hancock today faced the wrath of MPs as he admitted the contact tracing of 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases was delayed for days because of the blunder. The Health Secretary told the House of Commons that the extraordinary episode ‘should never have happened’ and an investigation was being carried out into how thousands of cases dropped out of the system. 

But he did not offer an apology, and tried to soothe the situation by insisting the error had not warped judgements on local lockdowns or the government’s overall assessment of Britain’s outbreak.

In other developments today:

  • Manchester now has the highest seven-day case rate in England — recording almost 500 cases per 100,000 people last week, according to an updated analysis of government figures; 
  • Ministers are putting the finishing touches to a new traffic-light system which could pave the way for harsher restrictions such as the closure of all pubs in a certain area;
  • The head of a teaching union warned that A-Level and GCSE exams would have to be simplified next summer because it was unfair to test pupils on subjects they had missed while schools were closed by coronavirus; 
  • Rishi Sunak revealed he is ‘frustrated’ by the 10pm pubs curfew and has ‘no regrets’ about Eat Out to Help Out — despite Boris Johnson admitting it might have fueled Covid cases;
  • Trials of an air passenger testing regime are expected to begin within weeks in a victory for the Mail’s Get Britain Flying campaign;
  • Health minister Lord Bethell claimed Britain will look back at its Covid-19 response ‘like the Olympics’ and be ‘extremely proud’.

Counted by the date specimens were collected, rather than the date the government published them, the UK had 11,404 cases on September 30, almost as many as were reported in the next two days combined

Counted by the date specimens were collected, rather than the date the government published them, the UK had 11,404 cases on September 30, almost as many as were reported in the next two days combined

What Covid-19 numbers SHOULD have said

An Excel bungle that led to thousands of cases being lost in government systems masked daily cases in the UK hitting 11,000.

A clearer picture of the country’s outbreak has emerged after some 16,000 confirmed infections had to be added to the daily totals running back more than a week.

Counted by the date specimens were collected, rather than the date the government published them, the UK had 11,404 cases on September 30. And the daily number has not been below 6,000 since September 21.

The extraordinary meltdown was caused by an Excel spreadsheet containing lab results reaching its maxium size, and failing to update. Some 15,841 cases between September 25 and October 2 were not uploaded to the government dashboard.

As well as underestimating the scale of the outbreak in the UK, critically the details were not passed to contact tracers, meaning people exposed to the virus were not tracked down.

Boris Johnson was unable even to say how many people were being contact traced in the wake of the bungle – although based on the previous average number of contacts reported by each infected person, it will be over 50,000.

But he scrambled to play down concerns that ministers have been making pivotal decisions on lockdown without accurate information, saying the outbreak was still in line with where its experts thought.

The shambolic situation sparked an immediate backlash against PHE – which is already set to be abolished and replaced by the government – with claims ‘everything it touches turns to sh**’.

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But the body hit back by pointing the finger at the Test & Trace operation, run by Baroness Dido Harding. ‘We report the data when they send it. We didn’t get it,’ one official told Sky News.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to hold an emergency meeting with angry local mayors about the situation, before what promises to be a bruising appearance in the Commons this evening.

The technical issue has now been resolved by splitting the Excel files into batches.

Deaths can vary day-by-day and are normally lower on Sundays and Mondays because of a recording lag at the weekend — just 33 were announced yesterday compared to the rolling seven-day average of 52.

When taking into account the rolling-average, the trend has risen upwards consistently for the past few weeks. It stood at 30 last Sunday, 21 on September 20 and 11 on September 13. 

The most up-to-date government coronavirus death toll stands at 42,350. It takes into account victims who have died within 28 days of testing positive for the life-threatening infection. 

The deaths 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 and Northern Ireland are out of sync.

The toll announced by NHS England every day, which only takes into account fatalities in hospitals, doesn’t always 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’.

The government’s official toll is different to the figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics, which includes suspected fatalities where coronavirus was mentioned on a death certificate and not just lab-confirmed ones.

The ONS, and the statistical bodies of Scotland and Northern Ireland, estimate around 57,000 people across the UK have died of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 this year.  

And despite the number of deaths being announced each day has risen, Covid-19 fatalities declared each day by the Department of Health are still nowhere near where they were at the start of the pandemic.

They have tumbled since the peak in April when more than 1,000 people died on some days and hospitals were focusing their attention on treating thousands of Covid-19 patients.

Currently the seven-day rolling average of new hospital admissions in England is 310. 

The figure has been steadily rising since late August, but is still a far cry from the 2,700 or so admitted each day in the first week of April.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases are also nowhere near levels witnessed during the darkest weeks of the pandemic in March and April, when at least 100,000 Britons were estimated to be catching the virus every day.  

Every London borough saw a spike in coronavirus cases last week except Camden

Public Health England data shows how the weekly infection rate — the amount of Covid-19 cases diagnosed per 100,000 people in a week — is rising quickest in Richmond upon Thames, rising by 153.6 per cent in a week. It has dropped in Camden by around 70 per cent

Coronavirus cases are soaring in every part of London except Camden, according to official data.

The capital city so far seems to have been spared the worst of Britain’s second wave of Covid-19, which has been concentrated in the north of England.

But signs are emerging that the virus is rebounding in London, with some boroughs seeing the ratio of positive tests per person more than double in seven days.

Public Health England has put every borough of the city on its watchlist as an area of ‘concern’, meaning it will be monitored closely in the coming days and weeks.

The biggest surge was seen in the leafy suburb of Richmond upon Thames, where cases rose by 154 per cent between September 20 and 27. This happened despite the numbers of tests going down, suggesting it represents a genuine increase.   

Although, PHE statistics show not a single borough has a rate higher than England’s average weekly infection rate of 59 cases per 100,000 people. London’s infection rate stands at 33.6, on average — a figure which has risen 28 per cent in a week.

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Meanwhile, Camden was the only part of the city to see cases decline in the latter half of September, with the infection rate dropping by 70 per cent. This happened despite more tests being done – the opposite situation to Richmond’s. 

Concerns about Covid-19 spreading out of control in the capital again are likely to be discussed at a meeting later this week, as health bosses will consider how a city-wide lockdown could work if one is needed. Council leaders will meet tomorrow to decide whether to ask the Government for more help in the city.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, warns the city is at a dangerous ‘tipping point’ with the virus and warned tighter social distancing rules could be on the way. The city – home to more than nine million people – currently abides only by national restrictions.

MANCHESTER IS ENGLAND’S COVID-19 HOTSPOT 

Public Health England's most recently weekly update on Friday shows only nine local authorities of 149 in England saw their infection rates drop last week. But PHE's computer error means infection rates may be higher in reality

Public Health England’s most recently weekly update on Friday shows only nine local authorities of 149 in England saw their infection rates drop last week. But PHE’s computer error means infection rates may be higher in reality

Manchester is now England’s Covid-19 capital with an infection rate higher than any other authority in England, according to official data. 

A total of 2,740 positive coronavirus tests were recorded across the city in the week to October 1 – the equivalent of 495.6 cases per 100,000 people, or one for every 200 people. 

For comparison, its infection rate stood at 223.2 the week before, according to a Press Association analysis of updated figures. 

Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool have also seen their infection rates soar overnight after the addition of 16,000 nationwide cases to the UK’s dashboard, which were missed due to a ‘technical glitch’.

The updated figures were put together by PA and are drastically higher than those given by Public Health England in its ‘Situation Report’ published last Friday, which used data up to September 27.

The most up-to-date PHE report revealed Newcastle upon Tyne had the highest infection rate in the country, at 250 cases per 100,000. 

Second was Knowsley (246.7), followed by Liverpool (239.3) and Manchester (200) — considerably lower than that reported by PA today, which uses data in the week up to October 1.  

PHE’s report shows only nine local authorities of 149 in England saw their infection rates drop last week. But the computer error means infection rates may be higher in reality.

Number 10’s lacklustre testing policy meant millions of cases were never counted, but researchers tracking the outbreak have only ever been able to make an estimate based on back-tracking all the available data on deaths, cases and hospital admissions.

Predictions now say that between 8,400 and 20,000 people are being infected each day. The former figure is from ONS and the latter comes from academics at King’s College London.

Data released last week suggested Britain’s outbreak is no longer spiralling into another crisis, despite warnings from Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty that the UK was hurtling towards 50,000 new infections a day by mid-October.

Promising statistics — from the government-funded REACT-1 study, carried out by Imperial College London academics at the end of September — suggested the R rate plunged back down to 1.1 from 1.7. 

The report, based on tens of thousands of random swab tests, also claimed cases are rising less steeply than they were a few weeks ago.

Separate estimates from King’s College London’s Covid Symptom Study suggested that the rise in daily new cases was only 23 per cent higher than last week, after it more than doubled in the week before.

But efforts to remain on top of the coronavirus outbreak in Britain may have been seriously hampered this week, after a computer glitch saw thousands of cases left off the tally. 

Some 22,961 cases of coronavirus were reported on Sunday and 12,872 reported on Saturday. This compares with around 7,000 cases reported in the four previous days.

Officials said the data published on October 3 and 4 are ‘artificially high’ because they include confirmed cases from as far back as September 25, but mostly in the past few days.

For example, 4,786 cases which were due to be reported on October 2 were not included in the daily total on the dashboard that day, when the figure was given as 6,968.

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Public Health England last night admitted nearly 16,000 cases had been missed off its dashboard system in the space of a week, taking the total number of cases in the UK to 502,978.

Officials said the outstanding cases were transferred to NHS Test and Trace ‘immediately’ after the issue was resolved and thanked contact tracers for their extra efforts over the weekend to clear the backlog.

The problems are believed to have arisen when labs sent in their results using CSV files, which have no limits on size. But PHE then imported the results into Excel, where documents have a limit of just over a million lines.  

The agency said in a statement that all those missing cases had been informed that they had the virus, as normal. But tens of thousands of Britons have been ‘put at risk’ because of the delay in cases being passed on to NHS Track and Trace. 

Boris Johnson was unable even to say how many people were being contact traced in the wake of the bungle – although based on the previous average number of contacts reported by each infected person, it will be over 50,000.

But he scrambled to play down concerns that ministers have been making pivotal decisions on lockdown without accurate information, saying the outbreak was still in line with where its experts thought. 

Dr Duncan Robertson, lecturer in management sciences and analytics at Loughborough University and fellow of St Catherine’s College, Oxford, said the error was ‘an absolute scandal’.

He tweeted: ‘These individuals will not have had their contacts identified and those contacts may have become infectious and may have been spreading the virus.’

Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, said ‘there will be occasional glitches’ in a system this size, but added: ‘I think the thing that surprised me was the size of it – almost 16,000 results going missing over the course of a week is quite alarming, I think.’

Professor Hunter told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘If you’re going to do your contact tracing, there is a very short timeframe in which you can do it effectively.

‘And the reason is that we know now that this infection is most infectious at around the time people develop symptoms – so very early on in the illness – and if you’re going to therefore identify contacts … it really needs to be done within a matter of a day or so if you’re going to actually have any effect.’

Rowland Kao, professor of veterinary epidemiology and data science at the University of Edinburgh, said the contacts of those affected will ‘have already contributed extra infections which we shall see over the coming week or so’.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the error was ‘shambolic’, adding that ‘people across the country will be understandably alarmed.’ 

According to data published on Sunday night, the weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases has soared in dozens of areas of England, following the addition of nearly 16,000 cases that had previously been unreported nationwide.

Manchester now has the highest rate in England, with 2,740 cases recorded in the seven days to October 1.

It’s the equivalent of 495.6 cases per 100,000 people, more than double the 223.2 in the previous week.

Liverpool has the second highest rate, up from 287.1 to 456.4, with 2,273 new cases. Knowsley is in third place, up from 300.3 to 452.1, with 682 new cases.

Other areas recording sharp increases include Newcastle upon Tyne (up from 256.6 to 399.6, with 1,210 new cases); Nottingham (up from 52.0 to 283.9, with 945 new cases); Leeds (up from 138.8 to 274.5, with 2,177 new cases); and Sheffield (up from 91.8 to 233.1, with 1,363 new cases).

It is not clear if the latest increase in cases will trigger further government intervention.

Mr Johnson said the updated figures meant that the prevalence of the virus was where experts had expected it to be and it would soon be apparent if extra restrictions were having the intended impact.

‘The incidence that we are seeing in the cases corresponds to pretty much where we thought we were,’ he said.

‘And, to be frank, I think that the slightly lower numbers that we’d seen, you know, didn’t really reflect where we thought the disease was likely to go, so I think these numbers are realistic.’



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