These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.
New Lockdown Measures
New measures to tackle the rise in COVID-19 cases in England have been predicted, with at least one report today claiming the plan has already been approved by Number 10.
A three-tier system of local lockdowns has been touted as the most likely response as the Government tries to balance health measures and the fragile economy.
Under the system, different regions of England would be placed in different categories depending on infection rates from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The strategy was trailed yesterday by the Scottish Government which introduced more stringent rules, including curbs on pub and restaurant opening hours in the central belt, which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, confirmed to the BBC earlier that the Government was “currently considering what steps to take”.
It was widely reported today that pubs and restaurants could be closed for a time in some of the worst affected areas in England.
The Times asserted that the strategy had already been signed off by the Prime Minister, and would be accompanied by extra financial support for affected businesses.
The timing of any extra measures remained unclear, although some commentators suggested they could be introduced next week.
In today’s daily data another 17,540 UK positive tests were reported and 77 deaths.
There are 3412 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 442 ventilator beds are in use.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director for Public Health England, commented: “We are seeing a definite and sustained increase in cases and admissions to hospital. The trend is clear, and it is very concerning.”
Extra Funding to Back Coronavirus Enforcement Rules
Police forces and local councils in England have been told they will receive an extra £60 million to boost patrols enforcing coronavirus rules.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said: “This extra funding will strengthen the police’s role in enforcing the law and make sure that those who jeopardise public health face the consequences.”
The Government said that police would also be asked to provide more support to local authorities and NHS Test & Trace to enforce self-isolation regulations.
COVID-19 Mortality Exceeds Flu and Pneumonia
More than three times as many people have died from COVID-19 in England and Wales this year than from pneumonia and influenza, official figures showed.
Between the beginning of January and the end of August, there were 48,168 deaths due to COVID-19 compared with 13,619 deaths due to pneumonia and 394 deaths due to flu.
The Office for National Statistics said the trend was particularly evident between March and June.
Deaths attributed to COVID-19 were 23.7% higher in males than females, figures showed.
The proportion of deaths occurring in care homes due to COVID-19 up until the end of August was 30.0%, compared with 15.2% for pneumonia and flu, statisticians reported.
A study led by University College London found that more than three quarters of people who tested positive for COVID-19 during lockdown were asymptomatic.
The research, published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology, involved 36,061 people from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey pilot study living in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland who were tested between 26 April and 27 June.
Of 115 who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, 76.5% did not report any symptoms on the day they were tested.
A more widespread testing programme was necessary to capture ‘silent’ transmission of the virus, the authors concluded.
Commenting on the study to the Science Media Centre, Prof Patrick Maxwell, head of the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, said the findings underscored that “social distancing and other measures are very important, and there will be great public health benefit in terms of reducing transmission if we can reliably identify asymptomatic individuals and they then self-isolate”.
However, Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said it was “definitely not the case” that asymptomatic individuals would remain symptomless throughout.
Nurses Demand Pay Rise
Politicians should substitute “hollow” clapping in support of healthcare staff and award a fair pay rise instead, the leader of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said today.
Dame Donna Kinnair was speaking at a virtual conference held by the College as the RCN published its formal submission to the Government’s anticipated spending review in November.
The document called for a 12.5% pay increase for NHS nursing staff.
She accused the Prime Minister of ignoring a request over the summer from 14 health unions to discuss pay following the strain on the health system as a result of the pandemic.
She said she had a brief message for Boris Johnson: “We don’t want claps, or medals, or pin badges – this time, just pay us fairly for the tough job we do.”
Dame Donna also spoke out against the perception that nursing was “a vocation” and “women’s work” saying this was “damaging and disrespectful”, allowing “wages to be supressed”.
See more global coronavirus updates in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.