UK’s daily Covid cases are ‘worryingly close to 100,000’, symptom-tracking study claims


Britain is ‘worryingly close’ to 100,000 new Covid infections per day, the country’s largest symptom-tracking study warned today despite Government data showing the outbreak is in retreat.

King’s College London researchers estimated there were 92,953 people falling ill with the virus per day across the UK last week, up 14 per cent on the previous seven days.

Cases are rising across all age groups, although the proportion of cases remains highest in under-18s with nearly 44,000 infected on any given day.

There was also uptick in the rate of increase in the more vulnerable age groups 55 to 75, the researchers said.

The latest survey figures were based on data from around 43,000 lateral flow and PCR tests done between October 9 and October 23.

Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist who leads the study, warned that the Government’s figures were a ‘big underestimate’ and may be missing 40 per cent of cases.

The Department of Health’s daily reports only include cases confirmed by a PCR test — which are more reliable than lateral flow devices. They showed new infections fell for the fourth day in a row yesterday, dropping 10.6 per cent to 43,941.

SAGE member Professor John Edmunds, whose grim modelling in July predicted hospitalisations would have reached 3,500 a day by now, said the fall in cases may have been caused by rising immunity in children.

And the low numbers in the official figures have lead to Government sources claiming the chance of ministers activating their winter Covid ‘Plan B’ is less than 20 per cent.

King's College London researchers estimated there were 92,953 people falling ill with the virus on average across the UK last week, up 14 per cent on the previous seven days

King’s College London researchers estimated there were 92,953 people falling ill with the virus on average across the UK last week, up 14 per cent on the previous seven days

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Cases are high in all regions of England and highest in the North West (purple line), where they are in excess of 2,000 per 100,000 people

Cases are high in all regions of England and highest in the North West (purple line), where they are in excess of 2,000 per 100,000 people 

‘Less than 20% chance’ No10 will activate Plan B now cases are going in the ‘right direction’, Whitehall sources say 

The chance of ministers activating their winter Covid ‘Plan B’ is less than 20 per cent, Government sources claimed today — but face masks might make a partial comeback in schools.

Despite warning last week that daily cases may rise to 100,000 this winter, Downing Street is thought to have taken confidence from the fall in national infections in recent days and optimistic forecasts by SAGE.

Scientific advisers have told the Government that the epidemic could shrink naturally next month without curbs because of a combination of the booster vaccine rollout and growing natural immunity in children.

A Whitehall source told the Financial Times today that the situation was now heading ‘in the right direction’, adding: ‘I reckon there’s a less than 20 per cent chance we’ll need to activate Plan B.’ 

Another senior Government official warned against being complacent because it is ‘too early to read a lot into the data’. But they conceded that ‘there is nothing to currently suggest we need to activate Plan B’.

Professor Spector said: ‘The ZOE data shows the UK could hit 100,000 new cases sooner than expected and with no sign of a Plan B or Plan C.

‘The ZOE figures are consistently higher than the official confirmed daily cases because we get results from various sources, including self-reported lateral flow tests that are under-reported officially.

‘The government raw figures report on PCR testing of the classical symptoms only, which miss around 40 percent of cases.

‘ZOE extrapolates the data from our sample to predict daily infections in the wider population. 

‘With the confirmation of our estimates from the ONS’s fortnightly survey, it’s clear the government figures are a big under-estimate, and with the highest rates in Western Europe, there’s no room for complacency.’

The ZOE data estimates the UK R rate is around 1.1 — meaning the outbreak is growing — with an average of one in 56 people becoming ill with the virus.

Cases are high in all regions of England and highest in the North West, where they are in excess of 2,000 per 100,000 people. In total 11,182 people — one in 48 —per day in the region were infected last week.

The South West saw the biggest jump in cases, increasing from around 1,250 to 2,000 per 100,000 in a week. One in 51 people were ill with the virus.

And Covid prevalence remains highest in Wales, where more than 2,250

Professor Spector continued: ‘We now know that masks add a layer of protection, so wearing them on public transport and in crowded places is a good idea. 

‘Avoiding unventilated crowded events is another, as well as working more from home. 

‘Finally, staying at home and getting tested when you feel unwell is key. 

‘There’s a lot of cold and flu out there making it harder than ever to tell the difference between a harmless cold or Covid. 

‘However, there are some symptoms that are very telling of Covid, particularly loss of smell and taste. 

‘If you feel ill, always check by taking a quick and easy Lateral Flow Test, even if you think it’s just a cold.’



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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