Britain has recorded 14,542 more coronavirus cases as the number of people testing positive for the virus every day triples in a fortnight. 

Last Tuesday’s data, which would normally be a good point of reference, was made unreliable due to a catastrophic counting error at Public Health England, meaning September 22 is the most recent Tuesday with an accurate number. There were just 4,926 cases on that date.

Another 76 deaths were also recorded today which is up 7 per cent on last week’s 71 fatalities and more than double the number of victims posted last Tuesday, when there were 35.

The spiralling statistics come amid fears the UK could face draconian new lockdown measures within days under plans for a local ‘Covid alert’ system.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to unveil details of the three-tier set-up as early as Thursday in an attempt to make the existing patchwork of restrictions easier to understand.   

Government sources said the top tier would include tougher restrictions than those currently applied to millions of people living across the North and Midlands.

A planned ‘traffic light’ system of measures will be redesigned after data from thousands of ‘missing’ cases revealed that the virus was spreading much faster than previously thought in cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield. Ministers will meet in the coming days to thrash out exactly how far to go.

Cities including Sheffield, Oxford and Nottingham seemingly at risk of harsher restrictions as Boris Johnson tries to get a grip on local flare-ups. 

Options include the closure of pubs, restaurants and cinemas, a ban on social mixing outside household groups, and restrictions on overnight stays. Sources refused to rule out the possibility that some towns and cities could be placed immediately into the top tier, despite the fact that death rates remain low.

It came as Nicola Sturgeon announced new restrictions would be announced for Scotland tomorrow, to come into effect from Friday.

But the First Minister used her daily press conference to say the measures to be revealed at Holyrood would not amount to another full lockdown.

Another 76 deaths were also recorded today which is more than double the number of victims posted last Tuesday, when there were 35 fatalities

Another 76 deaths were also recorded today which is more than double the number of victims posted last Tuesday, when there were 35 fatalities

Nicola Sturgeon announced new restrictions would be announced for Scotland tomorrow, to come into effect from Friday, but they would not constitute a new lockdown

Nicola Sturgeon announced new restrictions would be announced for Scotland tomorrow, to come into effect from Friday, but they would not constitute a new lockdown

Cities including Sheffield, Oxford and Nottingham seemingly at risk of harsher restrictions as Boris Johnson (pictured today) tries to get a grip on local flare-ups

Cities including Sheffield, Oxford and Nottingham seemingly at risk of harsher restrictions as Boris Johnson (pictured today) tries to get a grip on local flare-ups

Coronavirus cases in Scotland have been rising sharply since the beginning of September

Coronavirus cases in Scotland have been rising sharply since the beginning of September

PM channels Maggie with Tory conference speech 

Boris Johnson pleaded for Tories to keep faith in his instincts and handling of the coronavirus crisis today, setting out a true blue vision for Britain after the disease is defeated.

The PM admitted 2020 ‘has not been the year we imagined’ but insisted the devastating effects of the pandemic would not prevent the government pushing its ‘levelling up’ agenda after Brexit.

In an address to the ‘virtual’ Tory conference, Mr Johnson – deprived of his usual interaction with a live audience – said he was ‘working for the day when life is back to normal’, appealing for people not to let the gruelling lockdown ‘get us down’.

Nodding to rising Conservative anger about infringement of civil liberties and lockdown strangling the economy, he said he ‘deeply regretted’ the restrictions the government was imposing – but he warned there was ‘simply no reasonable alternative’.

Scrambling to reassure those questioning his Tory values, he promised to roll back the state as soon as possible, slamming the idea that the taxpayer could be ‘Uncle Sugar’ and keep funding every part of the economy, and praising entrepreneurs.

Mr Johnson also channeled the spirit of Thatcher’s 1980s revolution by pledging to save the dream of home ownership for a new generation with 95 per cent mortgages.

And he lashed out at those calling for the country to paper over its colonial past, saying he was ‘not embarrassed’ to sing Rule Britannia.

He said returning to the same way of doing things would not be enough, and the government was determined to ‘build back better’. It was ‘in crises like this’ that real change could be made, and he would seize the moment to do so.

The premier delivered an angry response to claims that he has ‘lost his mojo’ and not fully recovered from his own brush with coronavirus, offering to ‘arm wrestle or leg wrestle’ to prove them wrong.

She said the new measures will not include travel restrictions on the whole country – though such restrictions may sometimes be necessary in ‘hotspot’ areas – and the public will not be asked to stay in their own homes.

Speaking at the daily briefing in Edinburgh, she said schools will not be closed ‘wholly or even partially’, and the Scottish Government will not ‘shut down the entire economy’ or ‘halt the remobilisation of the NHS’.

‘We are not proposing another lockdown at this stage,’ Ms Sturgeon said. ‘Not even on a temporary basis.’

Neil Ferguson – known as ‘Professor Lockdown’ – warned this morning that pubs could have to shut altogether in parts of England to keep schools open.

The Westminster government’s Covid modelling guru said the extra cases added to the UK’s tally after an Excel blunder painted a ‘sobering’ picture of the outbreak.

He said it was not clear that the government could contain the virus while keeping children in secondary schools – and suggested that the wider population will have to ‘give up more’ to maintain the education provision.

That could include shutting bars and restaurants altogether, as well as extending the October half-term for a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to break transmission chains.  

However, the problems the PM would face in pushing through such restrictions was laid bare with Conservatives threatening a bid to strike out the existing measures, including the Rule of Six and the 10pm closing time for pubs. 

Asked if more restrictions are coming for Liverpool and Newcastle, the Prime minister’s official spokesman said today: ‘We keep the data under constant review by looking at a wide range of data in terms of the number of positive cases per 100,000 people, also the number of hospitalisations, the number of people who are moved into intensive care units and also sadly the number of deaths.

‘We have always set out that if there is a need to go further on a local basis then we won’t hesitate to do what is required to protect the NHS and protect lives.’

An NHS source revealed last night to the The Sun they had been told another Scottish lockdown was coming.

They added: ‘We’ve been told to expect it from 7pm on Friday.’ 

Figures published for the first time yesterday show 43 per cent of all cases across Scotland last week were in only two council areas – Glasgow and Edinburgh.

It sparked renewed calls for Ms Sturgeon to avoid imposing draconian restrictions on parts of the country with low virus rates. 

But a recent Government report warned there could be another 100,000 job losses by the end of the year.

 Tim Allan, of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘Talk of a further blanket lockdown is unacceptable to Scottish businesses.

‘It would damage consumer and business confidence, which have already taken an unprecedented economic hit throughout this crisis.

Testing centres, like this one in Glasgow, have seen a steady stream of traffic going inside

Testing centres, like this one in Glasgow, have seen a steady stream of traffic going inside

Coronavirus social distancing measures seen being observed at a restaurant in Edinburgh

Coronavirus social distancing measures seen being observed at a restaurant in Edinburgh

Tightened rules in Scotland could be ‘final act’ for tourism 

Scots tourism chiefs warned any further restrictions on businesses could be the ‘final act’ which would see them permanently closed.

Industry leaders said ‘widespread’ mass redundancies are inevitable as the furlough scheme winds down and any further action by Holyrood would exacerbate the problem. 

The Scottish Tourism Alliance warned many businesses had already started to make decisions on job losses and closing down for the winter. 

Chief executive Marc Crothall said new rules had already seen self-catering businesses suffer widespread cancellations, while many restaurants had seen their takings nearly cut in half due to the 10pm curfew.

Mr Crothall said: ‘The direct impact of the recent new restrictions is seeing businesses accelerating decisions on having to let staff go.

‘We are hearing stories of increasing numbers of losses coming sooner than many people had hoped.

‘A circuit breaker will have a really big bearing on the sector.

‘There’s no evidence of any kind of targeted and tailored support package for the industry.

‘Without that, it could well be the final act for many businesses.’

VisitScotland’s chief executive, Malcolm Roughead, said it was clear the industry was ‘struggling’ to withstand the impact of new coronavirus restrictions imposed last month.

He said businesses were facing an uncertain future after a ban groups from more than one household from booking self-catering accommodation together. 

 

‘Returning to national lockdown measures will take our economy back to square one – we simply cannot continue to keep switching the lights of the economy on and off. It risks not just jobs but the wellbeing of entire communities.

‘Instead, we should focus on using the evidence we have to target problem areas. The data the Scottish Government now has is sophisticated and detailed and will show in which environments and geographical areas the virus is spreading.

‘We know the virus will be with us for a long time. We must learn to manage it so we can carry on with our lives and protect livelihoods while keeping the risk of transmission as low as possible.’

New data published by Public Health Scotland puts five councils in the ‘red alert’ category as they have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over the past week: Glasgow, Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire.

Out of Scotland’s 32 council areas, 43.4 per cent of all cases were in only two, Glasgow and Edinburgh, between September 27 and October 3. In Glasgow, there were 1,224 cases – or 193 per 100,000 people – while in Edinburgh there were 750 cases, or 143 per 100,000.

There was not a single positive case in Orkney or Shetland. Moray had only five cases per 100,000, Aberdeenshire 14, Clackmannanshire 15, Perth and Kinross 20 and 26 in Angus.

Murdo Fraser, Tory MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: ‘I don’t believe there needs to be general nationwide restrictions when you see figures like this.

‘We saw a local lockdown in Aberdeen when there was a recent spiking of cases there. If, as has been suggested, we see more restrictions introduced in coming days, then I feel it is essential that they are targeted at specific problem areas, instead of right across the country.’

Asked yesterday if blanket measures will be introduced, Ms Sturgeon said that would be one of the ‘key considerations’.

She added: ‘If we feel there are further restrictions needed, are they needed nationwide or are they needed on a local or regional basis? We haven’t taken a decision on that.

‘Although we’re seeing in West Central Scotland and in Lothian particularly high numbers of cases and levels of infection, it would be wrong to suggest we’re not seeing rising infection in pretty much every part of the country. We are.’ Ms Sturgeon said that on most days over the past week there have been cases in every mainland health board area, as well as some islands.

She added: ‘There is a rising tide of infection across the country, albeit it is higher in some parts than in others.

The problems the PM (pictured in Downing Street today) faces in pushing through tougher coronavirus restrictions was laid bare with Conservatives threatening a bid to strike out the existing measures, including the Rule of Six and the 10pm closing time for pubs

The problems the PM (pictured in Downing Street today) faces in pushing through tougher coronavirus restrictions was laid bare with Conservatives threatening a bid to strike out the existing measures, including the Rule of Six and the 10pm closing time for pubs

Infections in the UK have rocketed in the past few days due to an embarassing counting error

Infections in the UK have rocketed in the past few days due to an embarassing counting error

Scotland can be seen to have had increased infections that a lot of certain parts of England

Scotland can be seen to have had increased infections that a lot of certain parts of England

‘Part of our consideration about restrictions also requires us to take account of not just reacting to a problem that is there, but also are you wiser to take preventative action in areas where it might not look like there is as big a problem now, but if you act you can stop a problem developing.’ 

Meanwhile, parts of the UK – including a number of university cities – could be plunged into local lockdown within days after ‘missed’ Test and Trace data belatedly revealed soaring infection figures.

Cities including Sheffield and Oxford are among a dozen areas which have seen their coronavirus infection figures soar following the ‘computer glitch’, which meant 16,000 cases were missed off Public Health England’s reporting system.

Residents in Nottingham, which has two universities, have reportedly been told to brace for lockdown measures, according to the Telegraph.

The city, which is home to Nottingham University and Nottingham Trent University, was previously not on the Government’s Covid ‘watch list’. 

But the updated data reveals the city would have been one of the worst areas in the country last week when compared with the pre-adujsted figures. 

Steve Baker

Neil Ferguson

Neil Ferguson (right) – known as ‘Professor Lockdown’ – said pubs might need to close to keep schools open. Steve Baker (left) is leading a Tory revolt against the existing restrictions

The Department for Health insist the new figures do not impact its watch list or alter current restriction in the area, according to the paper. 

 It comes as new figures today revealed that cases are rocketing in some of the North’s biggest cities.

Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Nottingham have all seen huge jumps, in some instances to a rate of 500 cases per 100,000 people.

That triggered a fresh round of frenzied speculation about tougher local lockdowns yesterday, with the threat of further restrictions later this week. 

Manchester’s weekly rate more than doubled to 2,927 in the week to October 2 – equal to almost 530 cases per 100,000 people. 

Liverpool was not far behind, with cases per 100,000 jumping from 306 to 487 in a week.

Cases in Sheffield almost trebled from just over 100 per 100,000 to 286. In Newcastle, the rate leapt from 268 to 435.

Professor Lockdown warns pubs might close to save schools as PM faces Tory mutiny

The government’s Covid modelling guru today warned pubs could have to shut altogether to keep schools open – as Boris Johnson faces a Tory revolt against the 10pm curfew.

Neil Ferguson – known as ‘Professor Lockdown’ – said the extra cases added to the UK’s tally after an Excel blunder painted a ‘sobering’ picture of the outbreak.

He said it was not clear that the government could contain the virus while keeping children in secondary schools – and suggested that the wider population will have to ‘give up more’ to maintain the education provision.

That could include shutting bars and restaurants altogether, as well as extending the October half-term for a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to break transmission chains.  

However, the problems the PM would face in pushing through such restrictions was laid bare with Conservatives threatening a bid to strike out the existing measures, including the Rule of Six and the 10pm closing time for pubs.

Anger has been growing on the Tory benches over the government’s refusal to exempt younger children from the Rule of Six – as happens in Scotland – while many believe that the curfew is causing more harm than good by fueling revelry on the streets and house parties. 

Many of the biggest rises are in cities with large student populations.

Mr Hancock said outbreaks on campuses would not necessarily lead to tougher restrictions for the wider community if they could be contained.  

Meanwhile, Covid contact tracers were last night desperately trying to hunt down tens of thousands of potentially infectious Britons after the full impact of the IT blunder was laid bare.

Ministers admitted yesterday that officials had managed to get in touch with only half of the 16,000 left off the Government’s daily tally of confirmed virus cases last week.

Estimates have suggested these people could have as many as 50,000 potentially infectious contacts needing to be traced and told to isolate.

The 697 positive cases confirmed yesterday across Scotland amounted to 12.8 per cent of newly tested patients. The number of people in hospital with the virus increased by eight, to 218, while those in intensive care remained unchanged at 22, and there were no new deaths.

Ms Sturgeon said there were more young people testing positive than at the start of the pandemic, but warned more older people had been catching the virus in recent weeks.

She said: ‘This is a very important point, and actually one of the key points in our consideration of next steps in the days to come.’

‘It risks wellbeing of entire communities’

In the UK it is predicated that a number of university cities could be put into local lockdown days after a test and trace counting blunder rocked the infection logging system. 

Cities including Sheffield, Leeds and Oxford are among a dozen areas which have seen their coronavirus infection figures soar following the ‘computer glitch’, which meant 16,000 cases were missed off Public Health England’s reporting system.

Residents in Nottingham, which has two universities, have reportedly been told to

The Department for Health insist the new figures do not impact its watch list or alter current restriction in the area.

It came as it was revealed cases were rocketing in some of the North’s biggest cities.

Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Nottingham have all seen huge jumps, in some instances to a rate of 500 cases per 100,000 people.

That triggered a fresh round of frenzied speculation about tougher local lockdowns yesterday, with the threat of further restrictions later this week.

Manchester’s weekly rate more than doubled to 2,927 in the week to October 2 – equal to almost 530 cases per 100,000 people. 



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