The UK yesterday registered the highest number of positive covid-19 cases for six weeks – just as the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was lecturing the nation on the “moral” case for reopening schools in September.
In total, 1,062 new cases were registered in 24 hours, the largest rise in a single day since June 25. The figure is 318 more than was registered seven days before. The eight deaths recorded yesterday brings the national total of people who have died as a result of coronavirus to 46,574.
Before the weekend, the latest figure for Croydon is 1,890 confirmed cases, or 490.5 cases per 100,000 population (In Sutton, those figures are 1,036, and 506.5 cases per 100,000).
Government data produced this morning shows three new cases reported in Croydon on Friday (click here for the government’s dashboard).
Yesterday’s national figure is a significant rise on the 758 coronavirus cases reported on Saturday, prompting suggestions that a “second spike” of rising number of infections may soon require localised lockdowns, as has happened in Leicester, or even a national lockdown may be inevitable soon.
In Kent, the county council’s public health director, Andrew Scott-Clark, said today, “We are worried about a second peak and therefore we must do all we can to minimise that.”
There are 29 cities on the government’s list of places it is monitoring in England that could face a local lockdown, rated “concern” to “intervention”.
Of the authorities highlighted, Preston in Lancashire is the latest to reintroduce some lockdown rules, with people banned from mixing with people outside their social bubble in homes, gardens and indoor venues such as pubs.
These are similar to the rules also imposed on Greater Manchester, Blackburn and parts of West Yorkshire, with fines of £100 in place for those who don’t follow them.
Leicester is the only city to be locked down completely so far, with pubs, restaurants and non-essential businesses remaining closed. Only yesterday were pubs in Leicester allowed to reopen.
There has been some suggestion that the “R number” – the rate at which someone who has the virus might infect others – has also risen above 1.0 for the first time in many weeks.
The government has still not yet been able to implement a satisfactory or functioning system of track and trace, never mind the “world-beating” system that was promised as long ago as April.
Last week, public health researchers were predicting that a second wave of coronavirus during the winter months could be twice as bad as the initial outbreak, and it could be accelerated by reopening schools without improving the test-and-trace system.
Researchers from University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine modelled the impact of reopening schools, combined with continuing to gradually ease social-distancing measures, under a range of scenarios.
According to their study published by The Lancet, if schools reopened full-time, 75 per cent of people with covid-19 symptoms would need to be diagnosed and isolated and 68 per cent of their contacts would need to be traced.
Currently, the track and trace system being used in England is struggling to reach even 50 per cent of contacts of those who test positive.
Chris Bonell, one of the report’s authors, said that the study should not be taken as a reason to keep schools closed, but rather as “a loud call to action” to improve the test-and-trace system.
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