New coronavirus cases in UK above 20,000 for third day in a row

Connor Parker
·4-min read
The government has been forced to increase economic support for businesses as the number of cases across England have continued to rise. (PA)
The government has been forced to increase economic support for businesses as the number of cases across England have continued to rise. (PA)

Coronavirus cases in the UK have risen by 21,242 – the third day in a row numbers were above 20,000.

The new cases are a significant drop from the record high of 26,688 reported on Wednesday but they are still significantly above the numbers seen two weeks ago.

A further 189 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19, as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 44,347.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 59,000 deaths registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Cases have continued to increase throughout October as more and more of the country is placed into tighter restrictions.

According to test and trace data,101,494 people tested positive for coronavirus in England in the week ending 14 October, a 12% jump from the week before.

Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance speaks during a virtual press conference on the novel coronavirus pandemic inside 10 Downing Street in central London on October 22, 2020. - The UK government on Thursday improved its new jobs-support scheme after businesses hit by regional coronavirus lockdowns claimed it did not go far enough. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sir Patrick Vallance is the government's chief scientific advisor. (AFP via Getty Images)

At a press conference on Thursday, the chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said the modelling consensus suggested there were between 53,000-90,000 new infections every day.

Deaths have also been rising, with 241 people dying from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest since 5 June.

The rising number of cases has put the test and trace system under further strain, after weeks of poor performance.

It comes as figures showed just 15.1% of people who were tested received their result within 24 hours.

At Thursday’s coronavirus briefing Boris Johnson said: "I share people's frustrations and I understand totally why we do need to see faster turnaround times and we need to improve it.”

(left to right) Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Henry Nicholls/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance, prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak at Thursday's press conference. (PA via Getty Images)

The latest figures showed 59.6% of close contacts of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in England were reached through the NHS Test and Trace system in the week ending 14 October.

This is the lowest weekly percentage since test and trace began and is down from 63.0% in the previous week.

Watch: Boris Johnson admits 'frustrations' over Test and Trace and says system can 'improve'

Read more: 'I'm aghast': Anger as government insists shielding not necessary for COVID vulnerable

With the pandemic getting increasingly out of control across all four nations of the UK the government has had to ramp up its economic support for areas subject to increased measures.

On Thursday Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced he would be making his job support scheme more generous.

Sunak said “open but struggling” businesses in Tier 2 lockdown areas could now claim up to £2,100 a month.

The chancellor also announced more generous support for jobs across the UK and doubled grants for the self-employed.

Alongside the new grants, Sunak extended the government’s Job Support Scheme.

Under the programme, which tops up the wages of part-time workers, staff will now need to work just 20% of their usual hours to qualify for support.

The scheme originally required people to work 33% of their regular hours. Employer contributions towards unworked hours have been cut to just 5%.

Read more: 'Don't put clocks back to help fight COVID pandemic misery', petition urges

Much of the new support will able to be backdated to when harsher measures were implemented.

Northern Leaders, particularly Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, reacted with anger at the news more support was coming for Tier 2 so soon after London entered it, yet their areas had been under basically the same restrictions for months.

Local leaders in the North have been vocal in calling for more support for Tier 3, with Greater Manchester and the government unable to reach a financial agreement earlier this week.

The area will be first in England to be put under Tier 3 without the backing of local leaders.

South Yorkshire will also enter Tier 3 this weekend after the government reached an agreement with leaders there.

Leaders from the Liverpool City Region, Lancashire and South Yorkshire have all said the deals they were offered were ‘take it or leave it’ and they weren’t enough to support all the people who needed help.

Although there has been a lot of disquiet over the economic impact of further restrictions few leaders regionally and locally have disputed their necessity.

The government has warned recently that hospitals in Greater Manchester were almost at full capacity.

The medical director Liverpool University Hospitals NHS urged people to follow the rules as their hospitals were now dealing with more coronavirus patients than they were during the first wave.

Watch: Hospital staff tackling second wave of Covid-19 ‘disheartened’ by rule-breakers

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