Punters have returned to pubs and bars in Wales four days after the country lockdown ended.
Large groups of students stepped onto watering holes in Cardiff as coronavirus restrictions eased for the first time in 17 days.
Some teenagers smiled as they danced and hugged in the street, while others sat down to eat in restaurants that have also reopened.
Experts claim they rushed to the pub before England's second national lockdown in Covid cases could have resulted in record spikes.
Meanwhile, the UK announced another 33,470 positive coronavirus cases yesterday – 39 percent more than last Thursday – despite indicators showing the outbreak is slowing.
The number of cases is the highest since the Covid-19 outbreak began and comes a week after the second national lockdown began in England. It's an increase from 22,950 Wednesday.
In other coronavirus news:
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak hinted he could bring Eat Out to Help Out back in the New Year to save the economy again – but it will conflict with diets in January and a government fight against junk food.
- Researchers in England have found that blacks are twice as likely to get Covid-19 as whites, but are no higher risk of death if they have it – but Asians have a higher death rate.
- The capital gains tax could be widened by the government to fill the void the coronavirus epidemic has left on UK bank accounts.
- Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam admitted that millions of people may not be getting the best coronavirus vaccine possible because they are being used when they are ready – the nation cannot afford to wait for the best, he said ;
- A testing expert said there was "absolutely no chance" that the rapid coronavirus tests launched in Liverpool and elsewhere for Operation Moonshot will normalize the UK after a study found they were 77 percent accurate.
- Health Secretary Helen Whately said the NHS Test and Trace telephone hotline misses 25,000 calls a day. Only 56 percent of calls are actually answered by the Serco system.
- A study by Public Health England found that people with learning disabilities are up to 30 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than people without.
Punters have returned to pubs and bars in Wales as the country's lockdown to fire breaks came to an end this week (pictured in Cardiff).
The revelers headed to Cardiff's pubs and bars to celebrate the start of the first weekend after the lockdown
On the first weekend after the fire lock was lifted, the Christmas attractions opened and the Christmas lights lit, they reveled on the streets of Cardiff
On the first weekend after the fire lock was lifted, the Christmas attractions opened and the Christmas lights lit, they reveled on the streets of Cardiff
Large groups of students stepped onto watering holes in Cardiff (left and right) as coronavirus restrictions eased for the first time in 17 days
Some teenagers smiled as they danced and hugged in the street, while others sat down to eat at restaurants (pictured in Cardiff) that are also reopening
Wales' restrictions were finally lifted after the government imposed a strict shutdown last month amid the soaring cases of Covid-19
Now, infection rates have fallen in almost all parts of Wales, with the largest declines being recorded in Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot and Torfaen – although it is unclear whether “fire safety” is responsible (Cardiff picture).
Wales' restrictions were finally lifted after the government imposed a strict shutdown last month amid the soaring cases of Covid-19.
Rules of the "new normal" in Wales after the fire
- Four groups of people from different households are allowed to come together in cafes, pubs and restaurants.
- Shops, fitness studios, hairdressers and places of worship that are not absolutely necessary can be reopened.
- Supermarkets can resume non-essential items.
- A "bubble" with another household can be formed and they can meet at home.
- Alcohol sales are still limited to a curfew of 10 p.m.
- Tours in Wales will reopen but only for material reasons outside the country.
- Social distancing of two meters still in place and face masks in closed public places.
- Work from home when you can.
- Groups of 15 people can participate in organized indoor activities and 30 people outdoors if it is Covid-safe.
- To fully reopen schools for all years.
Now, infection rates have fallen in almost all parts of Wales, with the largest declines being seen at Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot and Torfaen – although it is unclear whether 'fire safety' is responsible for this.
To mark their freedom, people flocked to Cardiff's bars and restaurants last night, braving the rain to meet and hang out with friends after two weeks.
As part of their freedom, four groups of people from different households can now get together in cafés, pubs and restaurants.
Non-essential stores such as gyms, hairdressers, and places of worship may reopen, and supermarkets may resume non-essential items after controversy over what is or is not essential.
However, alcohol sales are still limited to a 10 p.m. curfew, though that didn't stop people from flocking into downtown Cardiff last night.
By lifting the fire break, schools, places of worship and all shops can now be reopened. Free travel is allowed within Wales and groups of 30 or 15 people can take part in organized activities.
First Labor Secretary Mark Drakeford welcomed the new phase of freedom but urged people to remain vigilant. He said earlier this week, “We all need to think about our own lives and what we can all do to protect our families.
“We have to stop thinking about the maximum limit of rules and regulations. Coronavirus is a highly infectious virus – it lives from contact between people.
“To protect each other, we need to reduce the number of people we have contact with and the time we spend with them.
"There will be a number of new national measures that will follow up on all of the hard work and sacrifices made during the break of the fire."
He added, "We cannot go back to our way of life and throw away all this hard work."
The winners carry their huge toy animal prizes through the streets of Cardiff on the first weekend after the fire lock was lifted, the Christmas attractions opened and the Christmas lights lit.
To mark their freedom, people flocked to Cardiff's bars and restaurants last night braving the rain to meet and hang out with friends after two weeks
As part of their freedom, four groups of people from different households can now get together in cafes, pubs and restaurants
Non-essential stores such as gyms, hairdressers, and places of worship may reopen, and supermarkets may resume non-essential items after controversy over what is or is not essential. Pictured: Cardiff
In Wales, which is no longer locked after a brief two-week fire break, students were seen drinking in pubs and bars last night
First Labor Secretary Mark Drakeford welcomed the new phase of freedom but urged people to remain vigilant. He said earlier this week, "We all need to think about our own lives and what we can all do to protect our families."
Mr. Drakeford added: “We have to stop thinking about the maximum limit of rules and regulations. Coronavirus is a highly contagious virus – it thrives on contact between people (picture, Cardiff last night)
Police are addressing an incident in Cardiff city center the first weekend after the lock was lifted, the Christmas attractions opened and the Christmas lights lit
Scientists believe the sudden surge in Covid in England may have come from people rushing to socialize ahead of the lockdown that began last Thursday.
An expert, Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, told the Telegraph, “These numbers are going through the roof, and it's not really surprising when we saw scenes like Christmas Eve last week before we went inside Curfew.
"The problem is that the government in creating these guidelines is assuming everyone will act the same and they just don't take into account the fact that many people saw this as their last chance to get out."
Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, also said pre-lockdown socialization may have been a factor in the surge.
He told the newspaper, "If cases stay high for another day or so, it's pretty much up to people who are more social – partying before the lockdown."
A street musician entertains the crowds in Cardiff city center on the first weekend after the fire lock was lifted and the Christmas attractions opened and the Christmas lights lit
A group walks away from a busy Cardiff Castle Christmas market with cuddly toys
A bustling city center where night owls headed to Cardiff's pubs and bars as they celebrated the start of the first weekend after the lockdown
The night owls headed to Cardiff's pubs and bars to celebrate the start of the first weekend after the lockdown
Police chatted with people outside a chip shop while revelers went to Cardiff's pubs and bars to celebrate the start of the first weekend after the lockdown
In the meantime, Dr. Yvonne Doyle, the medical director of Public Health England, said most of the tests were done between November 9-10 – meaning people picked up the virus in the days leading up to the national lockdown.
Your comments come as an additional 563 deaths have been recorded, bringing the total coronavirus deaths to 50,928. This is a 48.9 percent increase over the 378 deaths announced last Thursday.
Unofficial statistics suggest that the country's outbreak slowed and lessened even before the November 5 lockdown began, and is expected to continue to shrink during November's strict regulations.
Meanwhile, in Wales, which is no longer locked after a brief two-week fire breaker, students were seen drinking in pubs and bars last night.
Crowds dance while a street musician plays downtown. The revelers headed to Cardiff's pubs and bars to celebrate the start of the first weekend after the lockdown
The fire safety lockdown in Wales ended with the relaxation of Covid restrictions
Bars and restaurants were busy with customers again and the rules in Wales were relaxed when England was put into a month-long lockdown
An expert, Professor Carl Heneghan (pictured left), director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, told the Telegraph, “These numbers are going through the roof, and it's not really surprising when we saw scenes like Christmas Eve before last week we went into lockdown. Dr. Yvonne Doyle (pictured right), Public Health England's medical director, said most of the tests were done between November 9-10 – meaning people picked up the virus in the days leading up to the national lockdown
Although yesterday's number is high, the number of cases by the Department of Health is not tied to a specific day – the 33,000 infections announced yesterday come from tests done on multiple days in the past week or more. That doesn't mean all of these people tested positive yesterday.
Test data shows that the number of people who tested positive increased on Monday, November 9th, when 24,642 people who took swabs became infected. The tests from that day made up 11,685 of yesterday's tests, significantly higher than the roughly 20,000 on each of the previous two days of the week.
It is also known that the test system does not take all people infected with Covid-19 as many never get symptoms. This means the number of people who test positive can fluctuate without fundamentally changing the size of the outbreak.
Yesterday's surge was not explained by the Ministry of Health and experts could not explain the sudden surge. According to Public Health England, many cases have come from people who were likely infected with the virus prior to the lockdown.
Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England, said in a briefing yesterday that it was "important not to focus on just a single day" but to examine a variety of data sources.
The government-run REACT mass test study found that the virus had slowed its spread earlier this month, while scientists behind the Covid Symptom Study now estimate the R-number to be below one.
However, experts agree that the number of people currently infected with the virus is very high – over half a million by best estimates – which was part of Boris Johnson's rationale for introducing Lockdown 2.0.
Data from the Office of National Statistics last Friday suggested these may gradually weaken before lockdown began under the three-tier local rules.
Scientists from the Covid Symptom Study claimed yesterday that the R-rate of coronavirus across the UK is now 0.9, meaning the outbreak has started to shrink and the "end in sight" is in sight
Professor Tim Spector, who runs the Covid Symptom Study, said new coronavirus infections are falling across England and are now – for the whole of the UK – around 36,000 a day
Professor Powis said this afternoon, “It is important to look at the cases reported over several days and not just take one day in isolation …
“Because of the way Test and Trace works, it's important not to focus on just one day. The second, of course, is that there is other data that needs to be investigated – the Office of National Statistics has been studying Covid infections in part of the population every week. I'm sure it will report again tomorrow and the REACT study, a similar study by Imperial College, did the same.
“So I think don't look at a single day, don't look at a single record. These records in particular are going to be very important as they are not affected by some things related to Test and Trace, those who come up … they look at people who are essentially chosen at random from the entire population.
“But it is clear that infection rates have increased and it is really important to lower those infection rates.
"That will reduce the number of deaths, ease the pressure on hospitals, and prevent the long-term effects like long-term Covid."
In the meantime, Dr. Doyle: “The highest rate of infection continues to be seen in the younger generations, but worryingly, it is rising rapidly in those over 80, who are most at risk of poor outcomes.
“The measures we are taking are helping to protect all of us, and anyone can have a serious illness with this virus.
& # 39; The majority of the cases reported today were from tests done on November 9th and 10th, including infections acquired in the days leading up to new action on November 5th.
"Limiting contact with others will help stop the virus from spreading and protect the people we love."
The REACT-1 project, which wiped tens of thousands of people every week, found yesterday that November daily infections had slowed significantly after a wave of new cases in the previous two months, and they even suggested the R Rate fell to 0.85 earlier this month.
Imperial College London experts behind the investigation said the decline is "seen across the country, both north and south, and is not being driven by any region" – suggesting the three-tier curb system is just beginning Going into effect before the ministers gave in and pressed the lockdown panic button.
However, the scientists estimated that the virus infected 100,000 people each day in England each day before the lockdown, and that at some point a million people would have the disease.
They said the second economically crippling shutdown was justified because the gearbox was still too high.
However, on October 25, the Imperial team forecast that there were 96,000 infections per day and that the outbreak would double every nine days – dire predictions that SAGE has cited as evidence of the draconian measures now being imposed on the country.
While 100,000 is still much higher than officials wanted, it signals that the virus has already started to slow down.
NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis (left) and Economic Secretary Alok Sharma (right) held a press conference on Downing Street yesterday. Commenting on the day's positive tests, Professor Powis said it was "important not to focus on a single day".
NHS professor Stephen Powis, who presented this graph, said the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 rose from 3,827 to 12,700 in one month
The REACT-1 project, which wiped tens of thousands of people every week, found that infections had slowed significantly in November after a wave of new cases in the two months before
Professor Steve Riley and Professor Paul Elliott, the study directors at Imperial, said they actually expected a much higher level of infection due to the rate of increase at the beginning of the month.
COVID TEST POSITIVITY DROP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THREE MONTHS
The percentage of coronavirus tests that are positive has fallen for the first time in almost three months in England, according to official figures.
It raises further hopes that the country will get a better grip on its second wave and may already be in the middle of it.
Experts say one of the most accurate and fairest ways to track the progress of the virus is to look at the positivity rates of the tests – the percentage of swabs that come back positive.
When a country has a high positivity rate, it means the centralized system is struggling to keep up with the outbreak. However, a low rate means that only a small proportion of the population actually has the disease.
A weekly report published yesterday by Public Health England found that 9.7 percent of the second pillar tests performed in the week ended November 8th showed positive results. That was a decrease of 10.2 percent over the seven days before.
It is the first time since the week leading up to August 2 that the positivity rate for Pillar 2 tests has decreased. Pillar 2 is performed in test centers, drive-through clinics, and in private homes – which makes up the vast majority of all tests.
The first pillar tests – which were done in hospitals – also fell from the week, falling from 4.8 percent to 4.5 percent. It was the first time since the week leading up to August 23 that that number had fallen.
It comes as the UK announced another 33,470 positive cases yesterday – 39 percent more than last Thursday – despite indicators showing the outbreak is slowing.
The number of cases is the highest since the Covid-19 outbreak began and comes a week after the second national lockdown began in England. It's an increase from 22,950 yesterday.
However, unofficial statistics suggest that the country's outbreak slowed and diminished even before the November 5 lockdown began, and is expected to continue to shrink during November's strict regulations.
They suggested that the three-tier lockdown system may have gone into effect towards the end of October and that the worse weather and halftime break may have reduced the number of people going out to socialize.
Although infection rates remain high, Professor Riley, an infectious disease expert at Imperial College, said the change in infection levels in early November "could be interpreted as a plateau or gradual decline".
He and his colleague Professor Paul Elliott, an epidemiologist, said it had been difficult figuring out why cases seemed to fall just before the national lockdown and then to rise again.
Semi-annual or colder, wetter weather could have deterred people from socializing and reducing infections, they said, while speculation about a larger lockdown later could have led people to abandon caution and more so around Halloween walk around, which then caused an increase.
However, they agreed that the rapid rate of increase in early and mid-October did not last into November, when the final round of testing – Round 6 – ended.
Numbers from their interim report dated October 29th rocked the country when it was revealed that 96,000 people catch Covid-19 every day and 1.3 percent of the population were infected.
The numbers were an estimated 0.6 percent increase in the infection rate on Round 5 in September, indicating that the second wave had exploded. But the rate at which it got worse has slowed in the latest data.
Professor Riley said in a briefing: “I think we can say that the level we reached at the end of the sixth round is lower than expected if the trend had continued at the beginning of the sixth round.
"If you average the data, it's more like a plateau than we would have had."
Professor Elliott added, “The prevalence (of the coronavirus) is slightly higher, but not as high as the very rapid increase we reported in our last interim report would have been.
& # 39; The ONS report last week may also have spoken of a plateau … Even if you look at the symptomatic reporting of Pillar 1 and Pillar 2, there hasn't been the same increase. I think it's still going up, but it's not going up at the same rate. & # 39;
The two agreed that the fact that more areas were forced into third-stage closures in mid-October may have slowed the outbreak's growth.
Professor Riley said, "It could certainly add to the downturn."
But they stood by their demands for a second national lockdown, saying that 100,000 daily cases are still too high.
Professor Elliott wrote in the report: “Our latest round of REACT testing provides reliable data on the UK coronavirus situation up to just three days before the country enters the second nationwide lockdown.
“We have shown that the prevalence of infections has remained high, adding to the need for people to act to fight infection and control the virus. These important data will be an important basis for determining whether the new measures are effective in curbing the growth of the epidemic. "
In further good news, scientists from the Covid Symptom Study claimed yesterday that the R-rate of coronavirus across the UK is now 0.9, meaning the outbreak has started to shrink and the "end for the second wave" is in sight .
Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist at King's College in London who is leading the project, announced yesterday that his latest data shows that the R – the number of people infected by each individual case – is the lowest since August and this rate of new diseases is slowly falling to below 36,000 new infections per day.
Imperial College London experts behind the investigation said the decline was "seen across the country, both north and south, and not being driven by any region" – suggesting the three-tier curb system is just beginning Going into effect before the ministers gave in and pressed the lockdown panic button
The Covid Symptom Study now suggests that around 35,963 people develop symptomatic Covid-19 every day in the UK, up from 44,000 per day at the end of October. The graph shows how the total number of people with symptomatic Covid-19 per day has also started to decline
Professor Spector argued that the falling R-rate was evidence that people's behavior during the three-tier lockdown had already started to lower infections, while the effects of England's national restrictions began to be felt in the data in the coming days and weeks will.
The study is based on health reports from more than one million users of the Covid Symptom Study app from health tech company ZOE and coronavirus test results logged by volunteers and official data. Although unofficial, the infection rates and R-value have been consistently estimated since the beginning of the pandemic.
Professor Spector said, “The R-value for all regions of the UK is now below one, which means that the number of new cases every day is decreasing as each infected case infects less than one new person.
& # 39; The data shows that the second wave peaked in late October when it was 1/1. The number of new cases in the worst affected area, the northwest, is now at the level of early October and has an R-value of 0.8.
"This is great news for the UK, and it suggests that public behavior had an impact even before the further lockdown restrictions came in. With the numbers falling and the news of a vaccine, it feels more and more like the end." Insight. & # 39;
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