England, Scotland and Wales declare 33 new Covid-19 deaths


England, Scotland and Wales today recorded another 33 coronavirus deaths between them in the preliminary toll as Britain’s fatality toll continues to creep up.

Health officials have yet to confirm the final daily figure, which takes into account data from every setting across the UK. The early count for England only includes laboratory-confirmed victims in NHS-ran hospitals.

NHS England today revealed another 30 patients had died after testing positive for Covid-19, including one victim who was no older than 19. Scotland and Wales announced two and one fatality, respectively. None were recorded in Northern Ireland.  

Government figures show deaths are finally rising in line with cases, which began to spiral earlier this month. On average, 25 Britons are now succumbing to the illness each day, almost double the rate of 13 last week. It had dropped to a low of seven at the start of September.

The Department of Health will offer a full update on cases and deaths later this afternoon. Yesterday saw another 6,178 infections recorded — showing the outbreak has risen 37 per cent in the space of a week. 

The figure was, technically, the second-highest amount of cases ever recorded in a 24-hour spell in Britain. But it is impossible to compare infections now to numbers recorded during the first wave because only fewer than 20,000 people were being swabbed on the darkest days in March and April, compared to around 230,000 now.   

But one expert today claimed the actual number of cases occurring each day in England now may be three times greater than what official figures show. Dr Julian Tang, a respiratory disease expert at the University of Leicester, said the UK’s coronavirus testing regime may only pick up a third of cases in the community due to people being asymptomatic. His estimate would mean the true number of daily infections is around the 18,000 mark.

Dr Tang said findings from the Real-Time Assessment of Community Transmission study, a large population survey examining the prevalence of coronavirus in England, showed that ‘up to two-thirds (60-70 per cent) of Covid-19 cases may be asymptomatic’. Other studies have revealed it may actually be as low as 20 per cent.

Test and Trace figures released today also revealed the number of positive cases has now plateaued, after almost doubling the week before. More than 19,000 infected patients were transferred to the system in the week ending September 16, up just 3 per cent on the 18,770 in the previous seven-day spell — which was up on the 10,491 from the week before that. 

England, Scotland and Wales today recorded another 33 coronavirus deaths between them in the preliminary toll as Britain's fatality toll

England, Scotland and Wales today recorded another 33 coronavirus deaths between them in the preliminary toll as Britain’s fatality toll

TEST AND TRACE GETS WORSE AGAIN 

Test and Trace is still getting worse, as official figures today revealed the number of people getting their swab result back in 24 hours has dropped again.

Fewer than one in three people who have an ‘in-person’ Covid-19 test get told they are either negative or positive within 24 hours — meaning the rate has halved in a fortnight. 

And just 1.8 per cent of people in England who take a DIY swab get their results back in the target time, down slightly on last week’s record-low of 1.9 per cent. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged 100 per cent of people would get their result back within 24 hours by the end of June. But government statistics show it has still yet to hit the target.

Suspected Covid-19 patients who take tests at home, at drive throughs and at pop-up sites now have to wait a record 40 hours, on average, to discover whether or not they are positive.

And one in 20 have to travel 50 miles or further to get checked, despite ministers batting away claims that swathes of Britons were being told to drive hours away to get checked for the life-threatening illness.

Figures also suggest the number of people complying with the NHS Test and Trace system is stalling, with fewer Covid-19 cases giving details of friends and family this week.

It comes as the NHS Covid app was finally launched today, four months after it was first promised. But flaws have already been exposed with claims the Bluetooth-based software will wrongly tell up to a third of its users to self-isolate after incorrectly thinking they have come close to an infected person.

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The testing system collapsed when children returned to school, prompting Baroness Dido Harding, No 10’s testing tsar, to confess that demand had outstripped capacity by ‘three or four times’. It has meant possible Covid-19 patients have been asked to drive hundreds of miles to get a swab.

Mr Johnson has promised to raise capacity to 500,000 a day by the end of October but the industry warned yesterday that it is already a ‘few weeks behind’ the Prime Minister’s target due to delays in deliveries. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer clashed with Mr Johnson once again in the House of Commons yesterday, after Mr Starmer accused the PM of ‘pretending there isn’t a problem’ with testing.  

Bolton, in Greater Manchester, continues to record the highest Covid-19 infection rate in England at 212.8 per 100,000 people, PA news agency reports. Though it is down from 213.9 the week prior.

South Tyneside, in Tyne and Wear, the North East, has the second highest rate, up from 98.7 to 189.4 with 286 new cases. Hyndburn, Lancashire, North West, is in third place, where the rate has risen from 132 to 183.9.

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday, Mr Hancock said almost 10,000 people a day are contracting coronavirus – still fewer than the 100,000 per day estimated during the spring peak.

But today an expert claimed the UK’s coronavirus testing regime may only be picking up a third of cases in the community due to people being asymptomatic – showing no symptoms. 

Dr Julian Tang, honorary associate professor of respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester, suggested there could be up to an additional 12,000 cases not yet being identified because findings from the Real-Time Assessment of Community Transmission (React-1) study, a large population survey examining the prevalence of coronavirus in England, showed that ‘up to two-thirds (60-70 per cent) of Covid-19 cases may be asymptomatic’. 

The true proportion of Covid-19 carriers who do not show symptoms is not clear, and only this week two published studies estimated it was just 20 per cent of people that were asymptomatic.

Dr Tang also highlighted that the React-2 study of antibody surveillance results up to the end of June indicated there were around 3.4million Covid-19 cases with antibodies to the virus in the community, whereas PCR-based testing showed only around 280,000 cases in the UK.

Dr Tang said: ‘Hence just based on these React studies alone, there are many more Covid-19 cases in the community, not being tested by PCR acutely, that can be spreading the virus.

‘This is a very worrying trend and it remains to be seen how the BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) populations are going to be affected (though likely in a similar way).

‘So the more people that can comply with the all the restrictions the better we will control the virus.’ 

In the week Britons were given tougher Covid-19 restrictions – which could last up to six months if cases aren’t quelled – its been revealed a traffic light system could be used to trigger local lockdowns.  

Local infection rates will be used to split parts of the country into one of three categories that will determine the restrictions in place in the region under the plan. Users will also be sent messages when lockdown conditions change due to shifts in the infection rate, the Daily Telegraph reported. 

The new plan was approved at a meeting of key cabinet ministers last week and is now waiting for the Prime Minister’s approval.

It could further point out a divide between the north and south of England, which are battling two vastly different outbreaks – although cases are rising everywhere, health chiefs warn. 

DOES LONDON REALLY NEED A LOCAL LOCKDOWN?

Covid-19 hospital admissions in the capital have tripled in a fortnight, with the seven-day average rising from 11 on September 2 to 33.4 by September 18. But the number of hospitalisations in the city is still a far cry from the 700-plus at the height of the pandemic in spring and only slightly higher than they were the start of July (around 25), when the country was deemed safe to reopen again

Covid-19 hospital admissions in the capital have tripled in a fortnight, with the seven-day average rising from 11 on September 2 to 33.4 by September 18. But the number of hospitalisations in the city is still a far cry from the 700-plus at the height of the pandemic in spring and only slightly higher than they were the start of July (around 25), when the country was deemed safe to reopen again

London is thought to be on the brink of a localised lockdown — but official figures show the outbreak may finally be slowing down, despite hospital admissions for coronavirus having tripled in a fortnight and public health chiefs warning of a ‘rising tide’ of the virus in the capital. 

During a behind-closed-doors briefing this week, Kevin Fenton, director of Public Health England in the capital, told London mayor Sadiq Khan and the leaders of all 32 boroughs that all signs indicated the disease was making a rapid resurgence in the city.

Ministers are now said to be mulling a decision to place more than 9million people in the city under even tighter restrictions, if the new suite of national social distancing measures announced by the Government this week fail to curb climbing numbers. 

Infections across the city has more than doubled since August, with the seven-day weekly average number of cases rising from 86 per 100,000 to 262 per 100,000.  But official figures show that upticks in cases have ground to a halt across the capital, with only a handful of boroughs now seeing a sustained rise in infections — including Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham, two of the three worst-hit parts of the capital. 

It’s true that Covid-19 hospital admissions in the capital have tripled in a fortnight, with the rolling average rising from 11 on September 2 to 33.4 by September 18. But the number of hospitalisations in the city is still a far cry from the 700-plus at the height of the pandemic in spring and only slightly higher than they were the start of July (around 25), when the country was deemed safe to reopen again. For comparison, 13 times as many admissions were being recorded in March (425 on March 22) — before the national lockdown was imposed.

And the most up-to-date statistics released by Public Health England, which cover the week ending September 18, reveal that just a single borough in the capital — Redbridge — ranks among the top 40 worst-hit regions of the country. The Government will publish its latest batch of figures on infections tomorrow.

However, Professor Fenton argued testing infrastructure had been stripped out of the capital and reallocated to hotspots in the north, meaning many Londoners may have gone undiagnosed. But the latest Department of Health figures show testing in London’s Covid-19 hotspots has actually increased week-on-week.

Analysis of the statistics by MailOnline found Barking carried out 2,669 swabs in the week ending September 16, 25 per cent more than the week before, when 2,036 swabs were done. In Redbridge, 3,370 residents were checked for the virus in the latest reporting period, compared to 3,046 the week prior, a rise of nearly 10 per cent.

The traffic light system would work in tandem with the NHS Test and Trace app, which was finally launched today after four months of being promised. 

The latest NHS Covid-19 app has been trialled on the Isle of Wight and in the London borough of Newham since mid-August, after an initial build was scrapped because it had so many failures. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning urged Britons to download the software to ‘make the country a safer place’, as he revealed almost 10,000 people a day are contracting Covid. 

But it emerged today the app may wrongly tell up to a third of its users to self-isolate after incorrectly thinking they have come close to an infected person. 

The Department of Health admits the technology still struggles to calculate precise distances, which means some users may be wrongly told to self-isolate even if they have been more than two metres away from an infected person.

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Close contact is defined as being within two metres of someone for 15 minutes, but in early trials of the app some people have received alerts when they were four metres away.

The risk of false positives stems from the app’s reliance on Bluetooth signals, which can be affected by nearby objects.  

This issue raises the risk of people deleting the app because they think it is not working properly, or simply deciding not to download it.

Those who receive false positives may also try to access testing centres, leading to more pressure on the already struggling service, or they could ignore the direction to self-isolate.

Officials say the app’s accuracy matches that of other countries, and downplayed hopes for the contact tracing function. They said its main benefit will be to encourage people to abide by social distancing and hygiene rules, The Times reported.  

It also emerged today that the app cannot be accessed on the iPhone 6 or older models, with an error message saying it required iOS 13.5 or later. 

This Apple operating system can only be downloaded on the iPhone 6S and newer models – excluding any handsets that are more than five years old and possibly affecting the older generations more than the young. 

It comes as London is thought to be on the brink of a localised lockdown — but official figures show the outbreak may finally be slowing down, despite hospital admissions for coronavirus having tripled in a fortnight and public health chiefs warning of a ‘rising tide’ of the virus in the capital. 

During a behind-closed-doors briefing this week, Kevin Fenton, director of Public Health England in the capital, told London mayor Sadiq Khan and the leaders of all 32 boroughs that all signs indicated the disease was making a rapid resurgence in the city.

Ministers are now said to be mulling a decision to place more than 9million people in the city under even tighter restrictions, if the new suite of national social distancing measures announced by the Government this week fail to curb climbing numbers. 

Infections across the city has more than doubled since August, with the seven-day weekly average number of cases rising from 86 per 100,000 to 262 per 100,000. 

But official figures show that upticks in cases have ground to a halt across the capital, with only a handful of boroughs now seeing a sustained rise in infections — including Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham, two of the three worst-hit parts of the capital. 

It’s true that Covid-19 hospital admissions in the capital have tripled in a fortnight, with the rolling average rising from 11 on September 2 to 33.4 by September 18. 

But the number of hospitalisations in the city is still a far cry from the 700-plus at the height of the pandemic in spring and only slightly higher than they were the start of July (around 25), when the country was deemed safe to reopen again. 

For comparison, 13 times as many admissions were being recorded in March (425 on March 22) — before the national lockdown was imposed.

And the most up-to-date statistics released by Public Health England, which cover the week ending September 18, reveal that just a single borough in the capital — Redbridge — ranks among the top 40 worst-hit regions of the country. The Government will publish its latest batch of figures on infections tomorrow.

However, Professor Fenton argued testing infrastructure had been stripped out of the capital and reallocated to hotspots in the north, meaning many Londoners may have gone undiagnosed. 

But the latest Department of Health figures show testing in London’s Covid-19 hotspots has actually increased week-on-week.

Analysis of the statistics by MailOnline found Barking carried out 2,669 swabs in the week ending September 16, 25 per cent more than the week before, when 2,036 swabs were done. 

In Redbridge, 3,370 residents were checked for the virus in the latest reporting period, compared to 3,046 the week prior, a rise of nearly 10 per cent.



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