UK Covid news LIVE: Expect a ‘difficult few weeks’ as cases tick up, says Prof Neil Ferguson

·16-min read

The UK should expect a “difficult few weeks” as Covid case numbers increase following the return to school, says Professor Neil Ferguson.

The school bubble system was ditched in July in favour of a system where just the pupil who has Covid isolates. Pupils are still tested regularly but they will no longer be required to self-isolate if classmates test positive.

Prof Ferguson, of Imperial College, and a key driver of the Government’s decision to first lockdown in March 2020, said there may need to be a “course correction” if case numbers continue to rise.

“I think we will see a difficult few weeks. We’re expecting numbers to tick up.

“We need to monitor what’s happening in the next few weeks, and if we start seeing something closer to the worst-case scenarios - case numbers at 100,000 or more - there may well need to be some course correction at that point,” Prof Ferguson said at an event organised by the Institute for Government.

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Covid deaths jump to 209 as prof warns UK faces ‘difficult few weeks’

Cases will surge but too early to say if restrictions needed, says Neil Ferguson

What the papers say – September 8

Egg nightclub lost £20k a night during lockdown

20:52 , Barney Davis

Egg nightclub in London’s King Cross lost approximately £20,000 per night while it was shut during the coronavirus lockdowns, its managing director has said.

Hans Christian Hess revealed the figure in a new interview while he expressed feeling “apprehensive” about the UK government’s introduction of COVID passports for club entry at the end of September.

The managing director told My London: “We’ve been shut for 18 months and it’s been really hard. Brexit together with COVID has definitely been an issue. Bills are adding up and authorities are not helping with the guidelines and restrictions. It’s been a nightmare.”

Since reopening on July 19, Egg has required a negative COVID test result for all those wanting to enter the venue, which Hans said “works really well”.

Among other measures, Egg has installed air conditioning for proper ventilation, new coronavirus-proof hand dryers and temperature checks at the door as well as training up staff on COVID protocol. Hess claimed that the club hasn’t had issues with spikes in infections so far.

Number of Brits who think holiday Covid tests are necessary drops, ONS finds

19:35 , Barney Davis

The number of people who think it is “very important” for holidaymakers to pass Covid-19 tests has dropped to just 53 per cent, an ONS survey has found.

Number of Brits who think holiday Covid tests are necessary drops- ONS

Government must stop housing refugees in Napier barracks

18:54 , Barney Davis

The Government must stop housing asylum seekers in “profoundly inappropriate” military barracks, a group of MPs and peers has said.

The call comes after immigration minister Kevin Foster confirmed the Home Office’s plan to continue to use scandal-hit Napier Barracks in Kent beyond September when its initial one-year contract expires.

The measure was initially billed as a temporary solution for asylum accommodation during the pandemic.

But it is now believed the site – loaned to the Home Office from the Ministry of Defence last year – could be used until 2025.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Immigration Detention, which has been carrying out an inquiry into the use of military barracks to house asylum seekers, published an interim report which it said highlighted the “alarming” conditions reported by those who have lived in the buildings near Folkestone, as well as concerns from the charity and other aid workers who support them.

209 more Covid deaths in UK

16:29 , Barney Davis

The Government said a further 209 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 133,483.

The figures are often higher on Tuesdays because of a lag in reporting deaths and cases over the weekend.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 158,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

As of 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 37,489 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.

No firebreak planned for October - No10 says

15:59 , Barney Davis

A so-called firebreak lockdown in England is not being planned for October half-term, but there are contingency plans that would “only be reintroduced as a last resort” to protect the NHS, the Government has said.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the vaccination programme provides “significant defences” which the country did not have on previous occasions when restrictions were put in place.

Downing Street denied there is a plan to put in place a firebreak this autumn if there is a new surge in Covid-19 cases, but the Government said there are “contingency plans” for a “range of scenarios”.

The comments come after the i newspaper reported an unnamed member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) saying a “precautionary break” could be part of “contingency plans”.

The paper quoted another unnamed source saying that “a firebreak lockdown is by no means out of the question”, and it was reported that could mean a two-week school half-term instead of one week.

Four in five people aged 16 and over in the UK have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine

15:18 , Leah Sinclair

Four in five people aged 16 and over in the UK have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, the Department of Health said.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid hailed it as a “phenomenal achievement”.

The department said a total of 43,535,098 people have received two doses (80.1 per cent) and 48,292,811 people have received one dose (88.8 per cent).

Mr Javid said: “It is a phenomenal achievement that four in five adults across the UK have now received both Covid-19 vaccines, which have built a wall of defence around the UK and are allowing us to live safely with this virus.

“It is fantastic to see so many leading companies doing everything they can to help encourage young people to get the jab - from Tik Tok to MTV, as well as other household names who have already rallied behind the rollout like Uber.

“Getting your vaccine has never been easier, and I urge everyone to continue to play their part by getting the jab to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”

Covid booster vaccines for 35 million to begin later this month, says Nadhim Zahawi

15:01 , Leah Sinclair

Covid booster vaccines for 35 million to begin later this month

Scotland: 16 new Covid-19 deaths and 5,692 cases

14:48 , Leah Sinclair

Scotland has recorded 16 coronavirus-linked deaths and 5,692 new cases in the past 24 hours, the latest figures show.

The data published by the Scottish Government indicates the death toll under the daily measure - of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days - is now 8,181.

The test positivity rate was 13.% down from 14.5% the previous day.

There were 771 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 34 on the previous day, with 77 in intensive care, up six.

A total of 4,128,998 people have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and 3,742,826 have received their second dose.

Humza Yousaf: Summer has been a perfet storm for NHS of high demand and tired staff

12:59 , Leah Sinclair

This summer has seen a “perfect storm” for the NHS in Scotland amid high demand and a “knackered” workforce, the Health Secretary has said.

Humza Yousaf said health boards were having to make difficult decisions around the types of treatment they could offer.

Mr Yousaf said the NHS was still “in the midst” of the pandemic and he was working to maximise capacity in the system.

Health boards were having to take “tough decisions” around non-urgent surgery, he added, with a number deciding to pause these operations.

Humza Yousaf (PA Wire)
Humza Yousaf (PA Wire)

He said: “This summer has seen a perfect storm - with higher rates of transmission because we’ve eased restrictions, we’ve had schools returning as well.

“Understandably so staff are taking annual leave because they, to be quite frank with you, are knackered because of the last 18 months.

“Because community transmission is high, therefore that has an impact on those in the NHS that are having to self-isolate themselves.

“So that is a perfect storm as the NHS recovers.”

Singapore reports most coronavirus cases in more than 1 year

11:58 , Leah Sinclair

Singapore’s health ministry recorded 328 new domestic coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest daily number of new infections in more than a year.

The city-state has been reporting more than 100 domestic cases daily over the past two weeks in a rise that has come as the country removes most restrictions as part of its phased reopening.

Finance minister and co-chair of the country’s coronavirus task force, Lawrence Wong, told local media in a briefing on Monday that Singapore may reimpose Covid-19 curbs if the number of severe cases rises sharply.

The number announced on Tuesday was the most since the record 904 seen in early August 2020.

Singapore has fully vaccinated more than 80 per cent of its 5.7 million population against the coronavirus as of Monday, one of the highest rates in the world.

Transport data indicates more people are starting to return to the workplace, says No 10

11:42 , Leah Sinclair

No 10 said transport data indicated more people were starting to return to the workplace.

It comes after a Government minister said only 25 per cent of his staff were working from the office at any one time.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “What we want to see is the Civil Service and, indeed, the broader workforce returning in a gradual way.

“I think we’ve seen the increase in numbers produced by TfL (Transport for London) and other transport networks which are showing significant increases as people do make that gradual return.

“We think that is the right approach and certainly one which the Civil Service is abiding by.

“I’ll repeat that throughout, even at the height of the pandemic, it was civil servants, many of whom were continuing to work from the office because they were on the front line to the response to this pandemic.”

Downing Street denies ‘firebreak’ lockdown reports

11:34 , Leah Sinclair

Downing Street has denied that there is a plan to put in place a so-called “firebreak” lockdown in October if there is a new surge in Covid-19 cases.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “No, it is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term.

“I think (vaccines minister) Nadhim Zahawi was asked a similar question this morning and made that clear as well.

“We have retained contingency plans as part of responsible planning for a range of scenarios, but these kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS.

“I think we’ve been clear throughout that we will take action, and indeed we have done when necessary to protect our NHS.

“But under the previous occasions when that action has been required, we have been without the significant defences that our vaccination programme provides us - we’re now in a much different phase.”

Minister hints at changes after revealing 75 per cent of his staff still home working

10:20 , Leah Sinclair

A minister has said he wants to “lead by example” in encouraging civil servants back to the workplace after he revealed that only a quarter of his team work in the office at any one time.

Nadhim Zahawi said that, while all of his staff were back to working in Whitehall, they operate on a rota system so that just one in four are at their desks each day, with the rest carrying out their jobs from home.

Asked about how many of his own team had returned to office working, vaccines minister Mr Zahawi told LBC radio: “People are coming back and my staff now, as of this month for example, have got something like 25% permanently back in the office on a rota system - so all of them are back effectively.”

But he conceded that his Department of Health and Social Care office space could “certainly” accommodate more in-person working.

Put to him that workers were being encouraged to return to offices while at the same time the majority of his office was empty, the minister said: “We continue to make sure we get people back as quickly as possible, as safely as possible, it is the right thing to do.

Some 92 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales

10:05 , Leah Sinclair

Some 92 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to August 27, up from 50 the previous week.

In total, 42,947 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

The ONS figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

668 deaths registered in England and Wales

09:57 , Leah Sinclair

A total of 668 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending August 27 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics - up 17 per cent on the previous week.

It is the highest total since 719 deaths in the week to March 26.

Around one in 15 of all deaths registered in the week to August 27 (6.5%) mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.

Sadiq Khan slams ‘selfish minority’ who refuse to wear mask on London tube

09:16 , Leah Sinclair

Sadiq Khan slams ‘selfish minority’ who refuse to wear mask on London tube

Government refutes plans of October Covid ‘firebreak’ restrictions if hospital admissions stay high

09:00 , Leah Sinclair

Government refutes plans of Covid ‘firebreak’ restrictions if cases stay high

Nadhim Zahwai: A quarter of his staff are working from Whitehall - but he is looking to increase that number

08:59 , Leah Sinclair

The vaccines minister has said a quarter of his staff are working from Whitehall at any one time but suggested he would look to increase that number.

Nadhim Zahawi told LBC radio: “People are coming back and my staff now, as of this month for example, have got something like 25 per cent permanently back in the office on a rota system - so all of them are back effectively.”

Pressed on why the office space could not accommodate more staff at once, he added: “We certainly can.

“They are 100 per cent working, it is just making sure that people come back in a safe way.”

Put to him that workers were being encouraged to return to offices while at the same time the majority of his office is still empty, the minister said: “We continue to make sure we get people back as quickly as possible, as safely as possible, it is the right thing to do.

“Look, we have to lead by example and I will take your message and personally make sure that we continue on with the staff, because it is important that people come back, and come back safely.”

NHS needs additional funding for the future, says Royal College of Surgeons vice president

08:47 , Leah Sinclair

Tim Mitchell, vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, welcomed the additional money allocated to the NHS but called for more additional funding for the future.

“We have a massive waiting list of nearly five and a half million people waiting for surgery, with about 6,000 people who have been waiting for two years for their operation,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“The money that was announced yesterday is very welcome and it’s good to have a clarity of the funding of the health service over the next six months.

“But the Royal College of Surgeons of England has been calling for a new deal for surgery, with an additional £1 billion a year for the next five years to help deal with the backlog, following Covid.

“In addition to that, we believe there needs to be substantial investment in the health service to deal with the problems that were present before the pandemic.

“We know that frequently there are problems, particularly during the winter months - back in 2017, for instance, NHS England asked hospitals to stop all routine activity for a month.

“So, although this funding is very welcome, we do need additional funding for the future.”

‘The NHS needs £10 billion next year', says NHS Providers deputy chief exec

07:57 , Leah Sinclair

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said the NHS needs £10 billion next year to make inroads into the backlog of care and keep up with the costs associated with Covid-19.

She told Times Radio: “We have to remember that there aren’t just high waiting times and long waiting lists in hospitals for routine treatments and operations, that wait time also exists across services like mental health - where, particularly in eating disorders, we really need to see those waiting times sped up so that people are not left in a distressing situation.

“It goes across the whole of the NHS really.

“I think the other thing we need to remember is that the cost of running the NHS has increased with Covid - that’s why we have been saying that next year we need to see £10 billion coming into the NHS so that we can afford to run it effectively and we can afford then to make inroads on that backlog.”

Extra funding for NHS in England to clear Covid backlog ‘must be followed up'

07:25 , Leah Sinclair

Health leaders have urged the Government to go further with extra funding to help the NHS recover from the backlog caused by coronavirus as billions of pounds of new money was described as a good first step.

Officials warned on Monday that waiting lists for routine operations such as hip replacements and cataract surgery could reach 13 million.

It came as the Government said the NHS will be given an extra £5.4 billion over the next six months to continue the response to coronavirus and tackle the backlog caused by the pandemic.

But ministers are being urged to “follow up in its spending review with the extra £10 billion a year the NHS will need over the next three years to avoid patient services from being cut”.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced the new funding and said £1 billion of the amount would be specifically for clearing the waiting lists faced by patients due to Covid-19, while £2.8 billion will be allocated for costs such as better infection control to continue to protect against the virus.

A further £478 million would go towards discharging patients from hospitals to free up beds.

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