Boris Johnson faces a "cabinet row" over plans for tougher coronavirus crackdowns, as the leaders of the city in the north pleaded last night with ministers not to impose lockdown measures.
Amid growing talk of a Tory backseat riot during its 10 p.m. curfew in Covid, the prime minister is said to face an increasing split between senior ministers – some aim to protect the economy and others call for tighter restrictions.
Meanwhile, the government's scientific advisers have called for ministers to take "urgent and drastic measures" to curb rising infection rates and hospital admissions.
The warning came as Rishi Sunak conducted an 11th hour intervention last night to delay the announcement of a new three-tier Covid alert system, the Telegraph reports.
In order to achieve tighter control over new lockdown measures, the Chancellor is expected to set up a new three-person committee of himself, Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, to decide which cities will be placed on the highest alert. the paper reports.
Such a committee would exclude Michael Gove, who prefers the restriction, from the decision-making process, the paper adds.
Boris Johnson is reportedly standing before a cabinet row over his tougher plans to fight the coronavirus as north city leaders asked ministers last night not to impose lockdown-style measures. It comes when Rishi Sunak took an 11th hour intervention to delay the announcement of a new three-tier Covid alert system, the Telegraph reports.
It comes amid growing dissatisfaction among Tory backers over the 10 p.m. government curfew in the hospitality industry.
Yesterday a parliamentary vote on the curfew was postponed until next Monday after reports that Tory MPs were planning to team up with Labor and vote on the plans.
Meanwhile, new speculation about further government action increased yesterday as the UK reported 14,542 new coronavirus cases – an increase of nearly 2,000 from the last 24 hours.
The numbers also showed an increase in hospital stays to the highest daily rate in four months.
In another blow to hopes that the virus will be brought under control, official NHS data shows there were 478 new hospital admissions in England on Sunday – the latest daily numbers are in.
This is an increase of 25 percent compared to the data on Saturday, when 386 people with Covid-19 were hospitalized. It's also a four-month high, unseen since June 3rd when the number was 491.
Data also shows that the number of people using ventilators rose from 259 a week ago to 349 on Sunday.
In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the four northern city leaders said they were "extremely concerned about the surge" of new coronavirus cases in their areas.
While hospital admissions have increased, the number of people dying from the virus in hospital remains significantly lower than it was when the pandemic began.
In addition, the figures show that hospital admissions rates are still low in some areas, such as the south of England.
The recent surge in cases has been particularly acute in the major cities of the north and the Midlands. Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham saw large increases, partly due to the return of university students.
Plans for a new three-tier system to combat local outbreaks that could close pubs, restaurants and cinemas in parts of England are currently being finalized.
These are expected to be unveiled next week but could be brought forward by the end of this week if current trends continue.
Officials have also refused to rule out further national measures.
In a sign of an imminent crackdown, Mr. Sunak reportedly drew up plans yesterday evening for renewed aid from the Treasury Department to businesses affected by new local lockdown restrictions.
This could be a new support package for those who are forced to close.
Last minute yesterday the leaders of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle called on ministers to think carefully about new lockdown measures.
In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the four said they were "extremely concerned about the surge" of new coronavirus cases in their areas.
However, they cautioned against supporting further economic lockdowns, urging him to hand over powers to regional leaders rather than impose restrictions on Whitehall.
Judith Blake, Leeds City Council Chair, Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, Sir Richard Leese, Manchester City Council Chair, and Nick Forbes, Newcastle City Council Chair, wrote: – clock rule, are counterproductive.
"Instead, local measures, developed jointly by the police, law enforcement and public health services, should be adopted to tackle rising infection rates based on local knowledge." Officials also expect Nottingham to lock down in some cases after a surge.
The city's infection rate has increased. In the seven days leading up to October 2, 1,273 new cases were recorded – that's 382 cases per 100,000. That's an increase of 59 per 100,000 in the seven days leading up to September 25th.
Nottingham Public Health Director Alison Challenger said current restrictions "are no longer enough to stop the virus from spreading".
Other areas with high rates are Knowsley and Liverpool, while Newcastle upon Tyne, Sheffield and Leeds have seen big jumps in their infection rates over the past seven days. Yesterday some experts called for stricter restrictions.
Chris Hopson, head of the NHS Providers hospital group, urged Boris Johnson to be ready "to put appropriately strict local lockdown measures in place wherever the virus spreads in a way that could jeopardize the NHS 'ability to cope".
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, tweeted, “Community broadcasting is increasing. The number of people who need to be hospitalized is increasing.
& # 39; Tragically, more people are dying. Options for intervention could be discussed, but the data are clear. & # 39;
Universities cancel classroom courses
By Chris Brooke
Universities started canceling classroom teaching yesterday as they stepped up efforts to contain rising infection rates on campus.
The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, which has around 73,000 students attending, said classes would only be online until at least November.
The University of Sheffield, home to nearly 30,000 students, followed suit last night when it announced that in-person learning will be suspended from Friday until at least October 19.
The University of Manchester (pictured) and Manchester Metropolitan University, which has around 73,000 students attending, said classes would only be online until at least November
The measures are a drastic step to stop the coronavirus from spreading among the student population. However, they will increase the requirements on students to receive tuition reimbursements.
Student outbreaks make up a large proportion of the total cases in both cities. In Sheffield, where there are two major universities, 808 students tested positive between Monday last week and Sunday. There were a total of 1,532 positive tests in the city during the same period. This means that 53 percent of all positive tests came from students. There appears to be a similar pattern in Manchester, although the evidence from universities there is more limited.
There were 792 positive tests from students at Manchester University between Monday last week and Friday.
Manchester Metropolitan University has not released positive test results to date, although more than 1,500 students in university accommodation are known to be self-isolating and there is a significant outbreak among students. The total number of tests in the city for the same period was 3,055.
If a similar percentage of students at both universities tested positive, they would represent more than 45 percent of Manchester.
David Regan, Director of Public Health at Manchester Council said: “This is the right thing to do and supports our approach of using data and a local approach to contain outbreaks to reduce the possibility of further infection.
"More online teaching protects employees, students, and the wider community about what we want and need."
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