Britain’s Covid-19 infections have increased by 20 per cent in a week after Boris Johnson spoke of ‘storm clouds’ brewing over Europe amid a surge in cases across the continent.
Department of Health bosses reported a further 36,517 cases today, a rise from the 30,305 reported last Sunday.
The number of people dying with the virus saw a 1.6 per cent rise, with 63 deaths reported today compared to 62 on November 7.
Hospitalisations tumbled by 8.9 per cent on Tuesday, the most recent date that data is available, down to 968 from 1,055 and there are about 8,600 Covid patients in English hospitals now compared to more than 12,000 at the same point last year.
In addition, a further 31,806 first doses and 23,668 have also been given out which means 50,557,065 people have had at least one jab and 46,009,463 have had two.
The figures come after Boris Johnson used Europe’s soaring epidemic to warn that the UK’s fate this winter hinged on how many people get their boosters.
Today the Austrian government ordered a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg confirmed that millions of citizens would be placed into lockdown from tomorrow amid a worrying trend in infections.
The move, which will affect about two million people in the country of 8.9million, prohibits unvaccinated individuals from leaving their homes except for basic activities such as working, grocery shopping – or getting vaccinated.
It will not apply to children under the age of 12 because they cannot yet officially get vaccinated.
Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe, with only around 65 per cent of the total population fully vaccinated.
In recent weeks, the country has faced a worrying trend in infections and reported 11,552 new cases on Sunday; a week ago there were 8,554 new infections.
The seven-day infection rate stands at 775.5 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
In comparison, the rate is at 289 in neighbouring Germany, which has already also sounded the alarm over the rising numbers.
It came as angry clashes erupted between Dutch protestors and police after they objected to a partial return of lockdown introduced by The Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
This week the Prime Minister pointed to outbreaks in Europe and warned there were ‘storm clouds gathering over the continent’ that could hit Britain next.
He said: ‘What I’m saying today is the urgency of getting that booster jab is more evident than ever. If you can get it, it’s a great thing, the levels of protection it gives you are terrific and so over-50s, who we’re calling forward, should come and get it.’
Yesterday ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson said that a Netherlands-style lockdown was ‘unlikely’ in Britain despite an ‘uptick’ in Covid cases in the UK.
The member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said Britain’s situation was different from other European nations as the wave of infections seems to be gradually getting smaller.
The professor at Imperial College London told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We’ve had two or three weeks of declining cases and admission to hospitals – that may be petering out, it is too early to say.
‘There is a hint of an uptick in the last few days.
‘But we are in quite a different situation from those European countries you are talking about (the Netherlands, Germany).
Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have been rising for a month after most social distancing measures were scrapped in late September, and reached their highest level since July in the past week
Austria’s seven-day infection rate stands at 775.5 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said that that millions of citizens who have not been vaccinated would be placed into lockdown from tomorrow
JVT says Covid crisis a ‘lot calmer’ after Easter… but other scientist warns of EIGHT years of misery
Britain’s Covid crisis is set to become ‘a lot calmer’ after Easter, Jonathan Van-Tam predicted today — but other scientists warned it could drag on another eight years.
England’s deputy chief medical officer warned there will be some ‘twists and bumps’ along the way and admitted that the situation was becoming harder to forecast.
But he told a medical conference today: ‘I think, generally speaking, waters will be quite a lot calmer after Easter.’
Professor Van-Tam warned this was dependent on the successful roll out of the booster doses, which are being offered to all over-50s.
His words were in stark contrast to eminent epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector, who warned that it could take years to become a manageable, seasonal virus.
‘We need to be thinking in terms of time scales — it is not in months, it is not by next Christmas, it is a question as to whether it will be three years or eight years,’ he said.
‘We’ve had very high case numbers – between 30,000 and 50,000 a day – really for the last four months, since the beginning of July.
‘That has obviously had some downsides. It has also paradoxically had an upside of boosting the immunity of the population compared with countries like Germany, the Netherlands and France, which have had much lower case numbers and are only now seeing an uptick.’
The epidemiologist, whose modelling helped instigated the first lockdown last year, said he hoped the UK could ‘avoid’ returning to social distancing restrictions this winter.
He said: ‘I think it is unlikely we will get anything close to what we had last year, that catastrophic winter wave.
‘We might see slow increases as we did in October, for instance, but not anything as rapid as we saw last year.
‘We can’t be complacent, but at the moment I don’t think we’ll be in a situation the Netherlands is coming into where they really do need to get on top of rising case numbers using social distancing.
‘I very much hope we can avoid that in this country.’
And England’s ‘wall of immunity’ was praised as a mass-testing study by the Office for National Statistics showed the total size of the country’s Covid outbreak shrank by 16 per cent last week to below 1million.
No10 has said it will only revert to its winter Covid ‘Plan B’ strategy if the NHS faces ‘unsustainable’ pressure, which ministers argue is not the case yet despite health leaders insisting otherwise.
‘I’ve got to be absolutely frank with people, we’ve been here before – and we remember what happens when a wave starts rolling in,’ Mr Johnson said during a visit to a pharmacy in South London.
But Independent SAGE has demanded the Government activates its winter ‘Plan B’ to protect the NHS.
The pressure group, made up of eminent experts who’ve pushed for an Australian-style virus elimination strategy, said compulsory masks and widespread WFH were ‘urgently’ needed to ‘save the NHS and Christmas’.
The group claimed the ‘very high levels of Covid’ were putting ‘extreme pressure’ on the health service.
‘The Government needs to urgently bring in Plan B… The pressure on the NHS is extreme and increasing, the backlog of treatment is at a record high, it needs to act now,’ Independent Sage said.
‘Most importantly, working from home where possible and mandated face masks in indoor spaces are needed. We also believe additional protective measures should be brought in, including ensuring good ventilation in schools and other public spaces and financial support for self-isolation.’
Total size of England’s Covid outbreak SHRANK by 16% last week to below 1million, mass-testing study shows as experts praise nation’s ‘wall of immunity’… but one in 60 people were still infected on any day
England’s Covid outbreak shrank in size by 16 per cent last week, official figures revealed today as experts hailed the country’s ‘wall of immunity’ for keeping the virus at bay.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), a Government agency which analyses tens of thousands of random tests to track the spread of the infection, estimated 925,400 people were infected on any given day in the week ending November 6.
It equates to one in 60 people being infected and is a marked drop on the calculation of 1,103,300 published last week, which had yet to indicate any downturn despite a swathe of separate data showing England’s outbreak was naturally retreating.
Cases appear to be dropping in all age groups, most notably among 11 to 16-year-olds. But around 4.8 per cent of secondary school pupils were still thought to have been carrying the virus in the last week, compared to roughly 7.5 per cent during half-term week.
Meanwhile, Government advisers today also revealed the R rate has fallen the second consecutive week. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) now estimates the rate stands at between 0.8 and 1, offering more proof that the outbreak is in decline.
One expert claimed the drop has been triggered ‘almost entirely by the wall of immunity, rather than behavioural changes or restrictions’, with the combination of the explosion in cases triggered by schools going back and the country’s vaccination drive credited for the drop.
Separate data published yesterday confirmed the trend. The UK’s largest symptom-tracking study revealed cases fell by almost a fifth in the biggest weekly drop since the summer.
But Department for Health testing statistics yesterday showed Covid cases increased 14 per cent on the previous week, marking the first rise in 10 days. But hospitalisations and deaths both fell week-on-week.