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Up to 74,000 people a day being infected with COVID-19 in England, data suggests
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance presents data at Downing Street press conference
Estimate is much higher than earlier survey which suggested 28,000 infections a day
Up to 74,000 people a day are being infected with COVID-19 in England, the government’s chief scientific adviser has warned.
Sir Patrick Vallance, speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Friday, presented data (pictured, below) from the scientific pandemic influenza modelling group (SPI-M) which suggests there were between 43,000 and 74,000 new cases a day up to Tuesday (13 October).
It is far higher than estimates in the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey, released earlier on Friday, which suggested 27,900 people a day were being infected between 2 and 8 October.
If there were 74,000 cases on Tuesday, that would mean infections are nearly four times higher than the daily numbers released by the government – though these are UK-wide as opposed to just England. On Tuesday, the government said there had been 17,234 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
It came after Boris Johnson said he would resist another national lockdown “if at all possible” as he comes under pressure to impose a short “circuit-breaker” across the country.
The prime minister told the press conference: “Some have argued that we should introduce a national lockdown instead of targeted local action and I disagree.
“Closing businesses in Cornwall where transmission is low will not cut transmission in Manchester.
“So, while I can’t rule anything out, if at all possible, I want to avoid another national lockdown with the damaging health, economic and social effects it would have.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a circuit breaker on Tuesday, saying “there’s no longer time to give this PM the benefit of the doubt” amid the continued spread of infections.
It also emerged the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) recommended a circuit breaker last month, with the government ultimately deciding against this.
At Friday’s briefing, Sir Patrick also repeated Prof Chris Whitty’s concerns from earlier this week that basic Tier 3 local lockdown measures are not enough on their own to get infections down.
Under the new tiered system, which came into effect on Wednesday, basic Tier 3 lockdowns will see a ban on households mixing indoors, as well as outdoors at private gardens and hospitality venues. Pubs will be forced to close unless they can operate as a restaurant.
However, the government can also choose to impose further closures in Tier 3 areas as long as local leaders agree.
Sir Patrick said: “As the chief medical officer said, Tier 3 baseline on their own, almost certainly, aren’t enough to get the R [reproduction rate of the virus] below 1.”
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