The UK recorded 1.7 percent fewer coronavirus cases today than last week. This is further evidence that the UK's second wave is slowing, new figures show.
The government today announced 20,051 new laboratory-confirmed Covid cases in the UK, compared to 20,412 infections confirmed last Tuesday.
The number is also a decrease from the 21,363 cases confirmed on Monday. The total number of infections in the UK since the pandemic started is 1,410,732.
The Ministry of Health also announced that an additional 598 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday – up 12.4 percent from the same point last week when 532 deaths were recorded.
Today's death toll is the UK's highest since May 12, when 614 deaths were confirmed. The latest death toll brings Britain to 52,745.
However, separate data from the UK statistical authorities shows that there are more than 68,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the UK.
This includes deaths where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate, as well as additional data on deaths that have occurred in the past few days.
The latest data comes from fears that England could be heading for Christmas under a brutal four-tier system when the lockdown ends next month – with the prospect of tighter restrictions on indoor mixing and alcohol sales.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick today gave a strong hint that local restrictions will be tightened even if the national curbs are lifted as planned on December 2nd.
In other coronavirus developments today:
- ONS data shows the number of people dying from Covid-19 rose 40 percent in the first week of November;
- Nicola Sturgeon put parts of Scotland in a tougher position, saying it was the only way to save Christmas.
- Boris Johnson held a "virtual" cabinet while continuing to isolate himself after meeting a coronavirus-infected Tory MP on Downing Street after a mask-free meeting.
- Mr Jenrick refused to rule out the need for a coronavirus vaccine to be mandatory, despite stressing that the government would rather not do it;
- There are allegations that 10,000 soldiers banned holidays for Christmas because they fear the pressures of the coronavirus and Brexit could bring the NHS and local authorities to the brink of collapse.
Mr Jenrick has suggested embedding some additional measures in Nottinghamshire – like a bar for alcohol sales after 9 p.m. – into future Covid-19 deals.
The housing secretary added no decision had been made whether to tighten the lowest level 1 after health chiefs found it ineffective. This could potentially mean families cannot gather around the house over the Christmas period.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pushed on the subject in the House of Commons this afternoon, refused to kill the idea, saying it was "too early to do the analysis". "We will remain vigilant," he told MPs.
In a round of interviews, Jenrick also signaled that regions, not individual cities, will be subject to the same levels in order to make them “more consistent”.
He added that after December 2nd there would be no "final" decision on the shape of the rules until the end of this month.
Mr Jenrick even refused to confirm that the blanket lockdown will end on that date, simply saying that the "hope and expectation" was so.
Pedestrians walk on Oxford Street in London while the UK remains closed in winter
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (left) gave a strong hint today that local restrictions will be tightened even if the national curbs are lifted as planned on December 2nd. Right picture: Health Secretary Matt Hancock
However, Boris Johnson is under great pressure from his own MPs to loosen the system than before.
There is growing demand that children under the age of 12 should be exempted from the six-point meeting limit, as is already the case in other parts of the UK. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 committee, said changes in common sense were necessary.
After the extraordinary Downing Street collapse that brought Dominic Cummings, the underdog of Mr. Johnson's underdog, to his knees, the Prime Minister was effectively warned that if he did not start, his own time in power could end to pay attention to his restless backers.
What could the new levels look like?
Ministers insist that no final decisions have been made on the Tier system after December 2, but there have been indications of the types of measures that may be included.
It also seems clear that the rules will in future be applied on a broader regional basis rather than specific cities.
The rule of six is expected to continue and the 10 p.m. pubs and restaurants curfew would still apply.
However, there is speculation that households could be prevented from meeting at home after health chiefs said base levels had been shown to be ineffective.
Tier 2 previously included all first-level curbs and a ban on mixing with other indoor households – including pubs and restaurants.
Tier 3 is the highest number of restrictions currently available in the system
It is forbidden to socialize indoors and in private gardens. Pubs and bars must be closed unless they can be operated as restaurants.
There are restrictions on staying overnight in other parts of the country unless it is essential work.
Ministers have drawn attention to another set of restrictions, above the current highest level – as is already the case in Scotland.
There are suggestions how some of the bolt-ons could be nested within the Tier 3 restrictions that are already in place in some areas.
For example, Nottinghamshire has banned alcohol sales after 9 p.m. while other areas have closed gyms and leisure centers.
When Jenrick appeared on Times Radio, he was asked if the government could be forced to ban indoor gatherings over Christmas if Covid-19 cases are still high.
He said, “We don't know yet. The tough yards we did in November should allow most people in England a much more normal December so we can hit the stores, take advantage of the hospitality and be together as much as possible families for Christmas.
& # 39; The data show that the tiered approach had an impact, particularly in some parts of the country, in October and early November.
"It is too early to assess the real impact of the new national measures as there is a two or three week lag but hopefully we will be able to make that judgment by the end of November."
Mr Jenrick was asked at the BBC breakfast if there could be a harder level than level 3 in the new system.
He said, “We haven't made a decision yet,” adding, “The Tier 3 we had before was only considered a base.
“And then we asked the local areas if they would be willing to go further, and some did.
“In my own area of Nottinghamshire, the local council decided to limit the sale of alcohol for royalty etc. after a certain period of time so that people would not go home and have parties or drink alcohol on the streets. & # 39;
“So there have been some changes to the levels that you see in some parts of the country and that is what we need to take into account now. Was that a sensible move? If so, should we embed that in the new layer structure? & # 39;
Mr Jenrick also suggested that the government move to a regional approach instead of dividing individual cities into different tiers.
"We will see if the measures we took in the old plains were effective," he said.
“Remember, they were very different in different parts of the country as there was a baseline of actions in Tier 3 that the Chief Medical Officer and others always said were just the beginning, and then we did asked the local areas to see if they would be willing to go further, some did, some decided against.
“I think we want greater consistency in the new levels and need to look at the evidence to determine which of these measures actually had the greatest impact on the virus so that we can take the most evidence-based approach we can take.
"We haven't come to a conclusion yet, to be completely honest, but we will be for the next week or so."
Dr. Susan Hopkins, a director of Public Health England who advises the government's coronavirus response, said officials should look into the lockdown "next week".
Speaking to a press conference # 10 on Monday, she said with Matt Hancock, “The main problem for us is making sure the cases are falling and we expect the lockdown to work and we are all doing our best to reduce it more socially Contact with other people so that the cases will decrease over the next week.
"We expect hospital admissions (fall) to be another week or more, but I think as long as the cases go back, we can make a judgment about which decisions we are making right and what are the opening decisions that will be made on Jan. December take place. & # 39;
Dr. Hopkins signaled that if the government decides to reintroduce it, there could be a possible tightening of restrictions on the lower end of the UK tier system.
She warned it might be needed to increase effectiveness until Covid-19 vaccines are widely available.
Dr. Hopkins said Tier One – the only level that allows different households to mix indoors – has "little impact" on slowing the spread of Covid and would need to be tightened until a vaccine is introduced.
When asked what could happen after the lockdown ends on December 2nd, she said, “We realized that the country's rating has different implications in each area.
& # 39; Tier 3 and especially Tier 3 plus in the north have had an impact on the reduction in the number of cases in the northwest and we can see a decrease in the number of cases in the northwest.
Covid deaths rise 40% in England and Wales: ONS reveals 1,937 victims in the past week
The number of people who died from Covid-19 rose 40 percent in the first week of November, when the virus was responsible for one in six deaths in England and Wales, killing more people than it had ever before since May.
A weekly report from the Office of National Statistics found that 1,937 people died between October 31 and November 6 and had coronavirus on their death certificate, up from 1,379 the week before. The previous week, deaths had also risen 40 percent.
ONS experts found that deaths from all causes are above average in all regions of England, with the exception of London, where they are around normal levels for this time of year. Deaths in London were still below average last week.
Today's update shows that 1,481 more people died than usual in the first week of November, meaning "excessive deaths" increased the total by 14.3 percent than was expected for that time of year.
The death toll has now risen for nine straight weeks, with most deaths occurring in the north-west of England, where 419 more people died than usual – an increase of 31.4 percent.
The region that includes Liverpool and Manchester has borne the brunt of the second wave of coronavirus in England, and although infections there are now falling, deaths will continue to rise as records catch up with people who infected weeks or even months ago were. It takes an average of two or three weeks to die from infection.
Excessive deaths – the number of deaths that would normally not be expected at this time of year – were significantly lower in other regions, with 273 in Yorkshire and Humber, 207 in Wales and less than 150 in all other parts of the country.
“Tier 2 seemed to hold up in some areas and not so well in others. So it really depends on how quickly broadcasts happen and how well the people in the community are taking this advice.
"We're seeing very little impact from Tier 1, and I think if we look at what levels might be in the future, we need to think about bolstering them to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is for everyone is available. "
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the plan amounted to months of "lockdown under a different name".
He warned that ministers would face a major rebellion if they tried to get the program through the Commons.
Sir Iain said, “This is just a lock under a different name. There is no way you will get the Conservative Party support. It's the health lobby once again showing that they don't care about anything else – they want us to stay locked down through April regardless of the cost.
& # 39; The intensive care units aren't full, but the economy is on its knees. If there is no tier one, that will be the end of the hospitality industry. & # 39;
The dispute comes because the numbers show that the UK's second wave of Covid appears to be flat, with infection numbers increasing only marginally over the past week compared to that time.
Mr Hancock said ministers "absolutely hope to replace the national lockdown with a tiered system next month" – but he has stopped guaranteeing it.
His tone, however, contradicted that of Mr Johnson, who made it clear that the rules underlying the national lockdown will expire on December 2nd and MPs will have a say on next steps.
In a message to MPs, the Prime Minister said he was "more confident than ever that we will end these extraordinary measures on December 2nd and continue to force Covid into submission".
However, there are concerns that the prime minister may be forced to extend the shutdown if the case numbers are still high before the four-week deadline.
That would spark a furious Tory rebellion, and many of the prime minister's backers firmly believe they will not agree to maintain national measures.
Mr Hancock was asked if the lockdown would be extended if the number of cases continued to rise.
He said, “The answer is that it is too early to know how many cases there will be when we get to the end of the current lockdown.
“But I would say that right now, most of the tests we're getting back and most of the positive cases are from the time the ban came in.
“So we still have to look at the data, and it's too early to see the effects of the second lockdown in the data.
“However, we sincerely hope that we can replace the national lockdown with a tiered system similar to that described above.
"But of course we are looking into this and how we can make sure it is effective."
Meanwhile, Mr Hancock announced last night that the UK had received five million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine after British officials tried to close a last-minute deal with the US company.
But the burst, which was revealed yesterday to be 94.5 percent effective in preventing people from getting infected with Covid-19, has to be taken in two shots, which means the five million doses are only two and a half Vaccinate millions of British people.
Speaking at a press conference on Downing Street, Hancock said the vaccine won't be available in the UK until next spring as the Massachusetts-based company needs to drastically expand its supply chain.
The UK has already received 40 million doses of a vaccine other than Pfizer, which uses the same technology as Moderna and was 90 percent effective last week.
However, the government did not simultaneously place orders for Moderna's batch, although it was cheaper and easier to stock than Pfizer's.
Moderna's vaccine works just like the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, using genetic material called RNA from the coronavirus to induce the body to make the "spike" proteins that the virus uses to attach the virus to cells in the body binds
This meant the UK government was left flat when the company announced its first results yesterday morning.
Mr Hancock dodged questions about why the UK had not pre-purchased Moderna's vaccine, insisting that it was "really good news" that No10 had managed to get one in the first place.
He also recognized the UK Vaccine Taskforce, chaired by Kate Bingham and Business Secretary Alok Sharma, for their “great job” in dealing with the biotech company at the last minute.
Mr Hancock said he was "delighted" that No10 had expanded its vaccine portfolio from six to seven and said repeatedly that the vaccine would not be manufactured in Europe until the spring.
The Minister of Health welcomed the results of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine study as a "candle of hope" but warned of the high rates of infection and death in the UK, which "made it painfully clear that the virus remains a major threat" – 25,000 people fall ill every day of the disease and 413 die.
Moderna's results show that 95 out of more than 25,000 participants caught the coronavirus in the study.
Only five out of 95 had actually received the vaccine, while the other 90 were in a placebo group and received a false push.
Nobody in the vaccine group got seriously ill with Covid-19 compared to 11 in the placebo group who received a fake vaccine to compare it to the real one.
The results suggest that the vaccine significantly reduces the risk of people who test positive for coronavirus or get Covid-19.
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