These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.
RCEM Warns of ‘COVID Explosion’
The President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) has warned COVID-19 “will continue its explosion across the country” unless effective precautions are taken as we head towards winter.
Dr Katherine Henderson was responding to NHS England’s latest performance statistics showing that on 1 October 96% of hospital beds were occupied and 4-hour performance at emergency departments was down by 6% since May 2020.
She added: “At the start of the pandemic the Government asked us to protect the NHS to save lives. It needs to make this message clear again to the public and set out a comprehensive and consistent strategy for the winter. Without this, we fear our Emergency Departments and the NHS will be overwhelmed.”
The heads of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, Prof Ravi Mahajan and Dr Alison Pittard, also issued a cautionary statement: “Given the recent dramatic spike in both the number of cases and hospital admissions it is clear that we could soon be back to where we were in April if we are not all extremely careful. This is a matter of national importance and we will only get through this if we all work together.”
The latest data from UCL’s COVID-19 Social Study show 27% of people in England have ‘no confidence” in the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. At the start of lockdown this figure was 6%.
Second Wave Shielding
The Times reported that a return to shielding is being planned for hundreds of thousands of clinically vulnerable people in England’s infection hotspots.
Shielding was ‘paused’ at the end of July.
The measures are thought to be part of a widely leaked three-tier system of local restrictions in England to be announced next week.
‘Striking Increase’ in Positive Tests
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Infection Survey show infections have risen rapidly with an estimated 224,400 people in England having coronavirus from 25 September to 1 October. That equates to around 1 in 240 people.
There were around 3.16 new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people per day, or around 17,200 new cases per day.
Katherine Kent from ONS commented: “We’ve seen another striking increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 across England in this week’s figures. Rates have been highest in the north of the country and amongst young adults.
In Wales, 6100 people had COVID-19, equating to 1 in 500 people.
In Northern Ireland, 0.22% people had COVID-19, or around 1 in 500 people.
Participants are still being recruited in Scotland.
REACT Latest Data
The continuing REACT study by Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London also produced its latest data today that show 1 in 170 people in England had the virus between 18 September and 5 October with 45,000 new infections a day.
Highest infection rates were among 18-24 year olds, 1 in 80 in