Boris Johnson today blamed a "bug in the counting system" for coronavirus cases, which nearly doubled yesterday – as he suggested contact tracing might have been delayed.
The prime minister dodged a more elaborate explanation when grilled over the extraordinary spike reported yesterday with nearly 13,000 new cases.
Amid concern over the surge, the Department of Health said there had been a "technical problem" adding a number of cases to the total in England.
When Mr Johnson appeared on the BBC's Andrew Marr this morning, he suggested that the problem may have gone deeper and interfered with crucial efforts to connect with those who tested positive.
"The reason is that the test system was buggy … It was a computer problem," he said.
The Prime Minister added that "anyone who had a positive test has now been notified".
The government released its daily numbers five hours later that night and showed a total of 12,872 new laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases across the UK reported in the 24 hours until 9 a.m. on Saturday.
In the 24 hours to 9 a.m. on Friday, there were 6,968 laboratory-confirmed cases in the UK.
Boris Johnson (who appeared on the BBC's Andrew Marr show today) dodged a full explanation when he was grilled over the extraordinary surge of nearly 13,000 new coronavirus cases reported yesterday
However, the numbers relate to the date the case was recorded rather than the date the sample was taken.
The Ministry of Health warned that infection statistics could also be inflated "in the coming days" after the problem resulted in potentially thousands of cases previously being overlooked by the official numbers.
Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine and director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, said the more meaningful seven-day average shows a "small increase".
He said England's data may still reflect a leveling out of the virus, despite expressing concerns about the direction of the data in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
While infection data rose sharply, the death toll remained broadly in line with the rest of the week's numbers.
The latest figures from the Ministry of Health were sent out five hours later than the usual 4pm release and warned that additional data will be added to the totals in the "coming days" due to a "technical error".
In a statement posted on the website today, the department said: “Due to a technical issue that has now been resolved, the publication of a number of COVID-19 cases on the Dashboard in England has been delayed.
"This means that the total reported in the coming days will include some additional cases from September 24th to October 1st, increasing the number of cases reported."
Saturday's figure brought the total number of cases in the UK to 480,017.
The government also said an additional 49 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday. That brings the total in the UK to 42,317.
Separate figures released by the UK statistical authorities show that there have now been nearly 57,900 deaths recorded in the UK with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.
Other figures show that as of Saturday in England, 2,194 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized, down from 1,622 a week ago, while 307 Covid-19 hospitalized patients were in ventilation beds, down from 223 a week ago.
A total of 368 patients with confirmed Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in England on Thursday, compared with 288 a week earlier.
The announcement was posted on the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs website today after the figures were released
Professor Carl Heneghan emphasized the importance of looking at the average data for seven days, which better reflects the infection trend compared to the daily data
Commenting on today's numbers, Professor Heneghan emphasized the importance of looking at the 7-day average data, which better reflects the infection trend compared to the reported data.
The latest figures show that England's seven-day average rose from 4,600 to 5,400 from September 18-25, compared to Northern Ireland, where the number nearly doubled from 144 to 263 and Scotland from 294 to as well 540 has risen.
He said: “England still seems to be stabilizing but Northern Ireland and Scotland look even worse.
“It still rises when we go into winter, but that's exactly what happens at this time of year with respiratory infections.
"If you look at the seven-day moving average (for England), it remains largely the same."
When asked why the direction of infection rates in both Scotland and Northern Ireland could be worse, Professor Heneghan said that this may be due to the success of the two countries in containing the coronavirus during the first wave – meaning it still a large group of people out there that might still catch the virus.
Britain's second wave of coronavirus showed signs of slowing on Friday as the number of new positive tests was only 1.4 percent higher than last week.
Another 6,968 cases were announced yesterday, just slightly higher than the 6,874 last Friday.
This small increase is due to the fact that most days in September were up more than 35 percent from the previous week.
Friday was the lowest weekly increase since August 25, suggesting that last month's resurgence has peaked in some cases.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also confirmed signs that the outbreak is slowing and estimated there were 8,400 cases of the disease daily in England for the week leading up to September 24.
This represents a 12.5 percent decrease from the 9,600 infections believed to have occurred every day the week before.
The ONS described its results as "limited evidence" that transmission of the virus "may level off" after spiking sharply in August and September.
The estimate is based on 300,000 tests sent to households across the country in the past six weeks. They gave 400 positive swabs and the result is applied to the entire population using mathematical models.
In the meantime, patients who have been directed by their GPs to perform a Covid test have been turned away at testing sites, even if there is enough capacity due to laboratory processing issues.
Up to 200 people a day were denied a test at a center in Stoke after Whitehall officials limited the number of people they could manage.
Officials there said that even people referred by their GP were told they could not be tested if the quota was met.
Some sites are now only working with a fifth of their capacity as the test laboratories have difficulties processing the results.
It so happens that more people than ever are having to wait three days or more to find out if they have coronavirus after a personal test in England.
Patients instructed by their GPs to perform a Covid test (pictured in Leeds) have been turned away at testing sites, even if there is enough capacity due to laboratory processing issues
Some sites (Burnley in the picture) are only working at a fifth of their capacity because the laboratories have difficulty processing the results
More people than ever before are having to wait three days or more to find out if they have coronavirus after a personal test in England (the Burnley test site pictured).
Thursday's NHS test and trace data showed that members of the public who conduct swab tests at drive-through locations or pop-up local and mobile centers are increasingly having to wait.
Numerous people were turned away on the Stoke website as only a few could be tested who had not booked online.
A staff member told the Times, "Sometimes when we hit that threshold – i.e. the maximum, even if they came with that GP letter, we couldn't let them in."
Another said that when a family came with a sick child, you really should say, "Well, I appreciate he's not doing very well. Have you tried booking a test on the internet?"
They added that even if the person claimed to have tried a test for three days, they should be turned away.
The Stoke site ran 500 tests per day per point, but is now following a quota.
On one day of the last week, only 100 people were tested by 5 p.m., the following day 260.
Whitehall's test location cap, which began last month, appears to be reflected across the system, as social media users also reported being turned away from websites.
Liz Martin from London tweeted: “Tests are not available and people are turned away. I haven't even been able to get a key worker lately. & # 39;
& # 39; Lighthouse Lab & # 39; delays the opening by a month
A superlab that is expected to process 50,000 tests per day had to delay opening.
The Charnwood site near Loughborough, one of the “lighthouse laboratories”, will not open for another month.
The laboratories are at the center of government plans to advance testing and processing of the results.
The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs bragged in a press release last month that the laboratory would be open "at the end of September".
However, there are no staff on the site and respondents were told that they won't be needed until the last week of October, according to the Times.
Meanwhile, another lighthouse lab has not yet opened in Newport, having been slated for August, but is not expected to open until this month.
Public Health Wales pointed at recruiting issues and not enough tests to verify the lab's processing operations.
A health ministry spokesman said: “NHS Test and Trace is offering unprecedented levels of testing – an average of 240,000 a day over the last week – more than any major country in Europe with more tests per capita.
"With new lighthouse laboratories in Newport, Newcastle, Bracknell and Charnwood, we are rapidly expanding testing capacity to meet our target of 500,000 per day by the end of October."
The Barking and Dagenham Council wrote, “We have learned that the Covid test sites at B&D are very busy and only a few walkable slots are available on a daily basis.
"Don't get stuck in a queue or waste time going there only to be turned away. It's best to book online or call 119."
Another report wrote, "I've had at least 4 different people tell me the same story, in which someone they know went to a testing center, the details of which were given, and who was turned away because they were too busy."
A week later, everyone receives a letter saying that they are positive about Covid. A swab was never taken. & # 39;
Andrew Wood, Advisor to Canary Wharf, added, “Serious Issues at Watney COVID Testing Center I have seen a number of people being turned away for not pre-booking. I asked the nice security guard how many to turn away (30% he said).
& # 39; He said and family doctors falsely told people that they could just show up and be tested.
“He told them to go online. Someone needs to put up a poster reminding people how to book, including calling 119 outside to help and give the security guard an appropriate mask (security guards have one of the highest infection rates in the country). & # 39;
Commented Mike Stripling, of the East Midlands, & # 39; Felt the full frustration of today's testing facilities. 10 people with full poe do SFA. My wife booked app at 3:30 am and got there after 1.5 hours of traffic to be turned away. Pathetic! & # 39;
Another Brighton man wrote: “People turned away from the mobile test center in Brighton – they had a QR code for the nearest test center they could get in ABERDEEN! However, the staff couldn't help but tell them to come back to the online booking system. & # 39;
The test capacity cap is reportedly being used to ease pressure on the floundering lighthouse labs.
One of the network's new locations in Charnwood, Leicestershire, has delayed opening by a month.
It was supposed to open in late September but won't work until later this month.
When the website, operated by the US company PerkinElmer for the UK government, opens, it will process 50,000 tests a day.
Meanwhile, another lighthouse in Newport has missed its opening date in August and won't run until November.
To increase the number of tests processed, the government has now announced that it will be working with universities and smaller private laboratories.
But it has again raised doubts that the prime minister's goal of having 500,000 tests a day by the end of October can be achieved.
NHS test and trace data shows that 1.7 million tests were processed in the week ended September 23, up from 1.6 million the week before.
The five lighthouse laboratories and NHS sites are expected to process 1.8 million at full capacity.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Welfare told MailOnline: “These claims do not reflect the enormous amount of work that is being done in a system that we have built from the ground up into the largest diagnostic network in British history.
& # 39; New booking slots are being made available daily for those who need them and we are rightly targeting testing capacity in the areas where it is most needed, including areas where there is an outbreak, and prioritizing risk groups .
& # 39; NHS Test and Trace is continuously increasing capacity and can now process over 320,000 tests per day. However, we have seen significant demand for testing, including from people who have no symptoms.
"We recently announced new facilities and technology to process results even faster and expand testing capacity in the UK to 500,000 per day by the end of October."
Meanwhile, government sources have revealed today that a Covid-19 vaccination in the UK could be just three months away.
The tentative total hospital deaths rose 122 percent from last Saturday when it was confirmed that 23 people have died in the hospital. Pictured: Oxford Circus on Friday
Almost half of hospital deaths in England occurred in the North West, where 1,603 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours despite local Covid-19 restrictions. Pictured: London
Every adult in the country could be vaccinated against Covid-19 around Easter, once Easter is scheduled to train an army of auto workers to administer the shock.
It agrees with Boris Johnson's suggestion that the rule of six could be suspended on Christmas Day to ensure a family of five can invite both grandparents out for a festive lunch.
The Prime Minister stressed that the government would "do everything possible to ensure that Christmas is as normal as possible for everyone".
Mr Johnson has often identified a vaccine as key to lifting many of the restrictions placed on the public since March, but has insisted that we must never compromise or sacrifice speed in the search for a vaccine.
It comes just days after claims that the UK's soaring coronavirus infection rate could actually speed up vaccination trials and move the world one step closer to eradicating the disease.
Scientists are skeptical, however, and say it could take much longer to get full vaccination, The Times reported.
Earlier this week, a report from the Royal Society warned that distributing and manufacturing the vaccine on such a mass scale would pose significant challenges.
Nilay Shah, Head of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London and co-author of the report, said, “Even if the vaccine is available, it doesn't mean everyone will be vaccinated within a month.
Boris Johnson, pictured last night, has often identified a vaccine as key to lifting many of the restrictions placed on the public since March, but has insisted that we should never compromise or sacrifice safety for speed when we are looking for one
“We're talking about six months, nine months … a year. There is no question that life will suddenly go back to normal in March. & # 39;
Oxford University has been testing a vaccine on humans since April and there is hope that it could be approved by regulators by Christmas.
Nursing home residents and staff will be the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in front of NHS staff and anyone over 80
Nursing home residents and staff will be the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine if approved, according to new government recommendations.
All over 80s and NHS staff will be in second place, updated guidelines from the Joint Committee on Vaccinating and Vaccinating States.
The body, which consists of 20 top scientists, advises the ministers on all vaccines. It admitted that its guidelines for a UK Covid-19 vaccination system are likely to change in the future.
Matt Hancock had previously pledged that Brits would be at the top of the queue with underlying terms for each push. But millions who live with heart disease or other diseases that increase the risk of dying from Covid-19 will not be vaccinated under the new guidelines until everyone over 65 is vaccinated.
WHO GETS A COVID-19 JAB FIRST?
According to the ranking proposed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, the vaccines will be introduced in the following order:
- older adults living in a nursing home and nursing home workers
- all these 80s and older as well as health and social workers
- all these 75 years and older
- all these 70 years and older
- all these 65 years and older
- High risk adults under 65 years of age with underlying health problems
- Intermediate risk adults under 65 years of age with underlying health problems
- all these 60 years and older
- all these 55 years and older
- all these 50 years and older
- Rest of the population (priority to be determined)
Government sources involved in the highly anticipated vaccine said it would take less than six months to complete a full program with no children.
Plans to speed up the process include establishing drive-through vaccination centers and rules that will allow more staff to give the shocks.
The armed forces could even be called in for additional help.
"We'll see you six months closer and it will likely be a lot shorter," a government source said.
Giving two doses of a vaccine to 53 million adults within a six month period would require 600,000 thrusts per day.
Those who need the injections most urgently are at the top of the list, which means that residents and nursing home staff will receive them as soon as they are ready.
Next up are people over 80 and NHS staff, followed by those over 65, younger adults at higher risk, and those over 50.
Some nursing home managers were asked last month for a list of eligible frontline workers.
Around 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccination, which has yet to prove successful, have already been ordered by the government.
Hopefully by the end of this year the scientists will know if it prevents at least 50 percent of infections, the threshold for success.
The UK is currently tied to the European Medicines Agency until January, which means it will not be able to administer the drug even if it has been approved by UK regulators.
However, ministers have announced plans to change the law so that vaccinations can start earlier.
The Ministry of Health said, "We are confident that we have sufficient supplies or transportation, PPE and logistics skills to deploy a Covid-19 vaccine across the country as soon as possible."
The Royal Society report highlighted several challenges, including the need to inject humans with RNA, a type of genetic material, in some of the most promising studies, even though an RNA vaccine has never been produced on a large scale.
Questions also remain about supply chains, with some vaccines having to be stored at -80 ° C during transport.
In addition, up to 80 percent of the population may need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, even if a vaccine is found to be 90 percent effective at reducing transmission.
Prof. Shah added that around 20,000 people would need to be recruited by the NHS to dispense the drug and that field hospitals may need to be built for the mass vaccination program.
It comes after it was revealed that New York-based Codagenix plans to begin experiments with its vaccine in London by the end of the year.
The sting will be of a type known as a live attenuated vaccine, which means people are given a genetically modified version of the coronavirus that is weaker than the original but still contagious.
People enter Oxford Circus underground station in London after the 10 p.m. curfew that pubs and restaurants are subject to to combat the surge in coronavirus cases in England
Live attenuated vaccines – like the MMR burst – stimulate the immune system in the same way as real Covid-19, but rely on viruses that cannot cause serious illness.
According to Codagenix, after a single dose, the vaccine was successful in animal studies and is said to induce immunity to different parts of the coronavirus, rather than just the "spike protein" on the outside that many others have focused on.
This could mean that it will still work if the virus mutates. Using a live virus can allow medical professionals to create a type of immunity that is similar to the body's natural type.
Oxford University's lead vaccine candidate was due to launch this fall, but studies stalled when infection rates subsided over the summer.
Studies had to be relocated abroad to Brazil, the United States and South Africa, where the coronavirus was still widespread, to test whether the sting could prevent infection.
To prove beyond any doubt that a vaccine works, scientists need to vaccinate tens of thousands of people, then send them back into the community and wait for a few to get infected.
This was a sticking point for the Oxford team as there was barely any Covid-19 transmission in the UK for months.
However, experts have told MailOnline that the only "silver lining" for rising Covid-19 rates in the UK is to speed up this process.
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