The UK has recorded more than 50,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time since mid-July, as ministers continue to reject calls from health leaders for some restrictions to be introduced.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said the current strain facing the NHS was not “unsustainable”, while Boris Johnson said infection numbers were “high” but “within the parameters of what the predictions were”.
Doctors described the government’s decision as “wilful negligence” and said “Plan B” should be activated to protect the NHS. Under this scenario, face masks would be made mandatory and working from home would be advised.
Meanwhile, a record 234,000 people booked to receive their booster jab on Wednesday, Mr Javid said.
The announcement came after Labour criticised the speed of the booster jab rollout, urging the government to complete it by Christmas rather than March.
Covid rates in England surge in all age groups, data shows
Infection rates in England are surging in every age group, the latest data shows.
In the seven days to 17 October, cases were most common among 10 to 19-year-olds, with 1,366.8 infections recorded per 100,000 people, up from 1,134.9 the previous week, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
This was the highest weekly increase in this group since records began in October 2020.
The lowest rate was in the over-80s, which stood at 121.2 per 100,000, up slightly from the week to 10 October.
Government’s existing Covid plan will not work, says scientific adviser
The government’s attempt to halt rising coronavirus cases by appealing for voluntary behaviour change from the public will not work, one of its scientific advisers has warned.
Professor Robert West, who is part of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), said the plan is not going to be effective.
He added: “But also I think people will be a bit suspicious and think, ‘Hang on a minute, what about you? What is the government doing because it’s not just about us it’s about everyone taking responsibility and that does include the government’.”
Ukraine sees highest daily Covid death toll
Daily Covid-19 cases and deaths reached all-time highs in Ukraine on Thursday, with 22,415 new infections and 546 fatalities reported.
Authorities there have blamed the slow vaccine take-up for the rise in numbers.
With only 15 per cent of Ukrainians fully jabbed, Armenia is the only country in Europe with lower vaccination levels than Ukraine.
From today, Ukrainians will need to show vaccination certificates or proof of a negative test to travel on planes, trains and long-distance buses.
We are ‘getting close’ to a firebreak lockdown, says Tory backbencher
England could “be getting close” to a firebreak lockdown, a Tory backbencher has warned.
Sir Roger Gale MP told talkRADIO that it would be best to “go hard and early” with restrictions to protect the NHS.
“My fear is that once again we are procrastinating and trying to avoid what may be inevitable, that we might leave it too late,” he said.
UK records more than 50,000 daily Covid cases
The UK has detected 52,009 new Covid-19 infections, the highest number of daily cases since mid-July.
The government also announced a further 115 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Amid a steep rise in the number of infections, ministers have rebuffed calls for coronavirus restrictions to be introduced.
The UK has recorded over 50,000 Covid-19 infections for the first time since the end of lockdown, latest government figures show.
WHO calls on G20 countries to donate more Covid vaccines
The world’s wealthiest 20 countries should increase their vaccine donations to poorer nations, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
“The G20 countries must fulfil their dose-sharing commitments immediately,” the organisation’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown said that failure to do so would be a “dereliction of duty”.
Western nations currently have 240 million doses lying spare, according to Mr Brown.
Government should ‘get a grip’, says Starmer
Ministers should “get a grip” and scale up the booster jab programme, Keir Starmer has said.
On a visit to a pharmacy in London, the Labour leader said the government was letting the country’s defence against the virus “crumble”.
“So the government needs to change, it needs to get a grip, I think it needs to drive those numbers up to at least 500,000 vaccines a day,” he said.
Pfizer booster dose gives strong protection against Covid, study shows
The risk of symptomatic Covid-19 infection is reduced by 95.6 per cent in those who receive a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the latest trial data shows.
Ugur Sahin, head of BioNTech, said “booster vaccinations could play an important role in sustaining pandemic containment and a return to normalcy”.
The study involved 10,000 participants.
Samuel Lovett reports:
Risk of symptomatic infection is reduced by 95.6 per cent in people who receive a third dose, compared to those who are vaccinated with two
Russian disinformation about vaccines backfiring, says EU
Russia’s campaign to sow doubts about the efficacy of western coronavirus vaccines is backfiring, the EU has said in a new report.
The country is now experiencing its highest daily Covid-19 death tolls, the bloc noted.
“Disinformation can kill. That should be kept in mind when we see Kremlin media continue spreading lies on Covid-19 and the vaccines, even as the death tolls in Russia are surging,” the study said.
The Kremlin has denied that it is engaged in a disinformation campaign.
AY.4.2 variant could be 10 per cent more infection than Delta, says Russian researcher
The AY.4.2 variant could be 10 per cent more infectious than the Delta variant, a Russian researcher has said.
But Kamil Khafizov, senior researcher at the state consumer watchdog, added that vaccines should work well against it.
“The vaccines are effective enough against this version of the virus, which is not so different as to dramatically change the ability to bind to antibodies,” he said.
The subvariant is also on the rise in England, accounting for around 6 per cent of all infections in the week starting 27 September.
Sajid Javid said on Wednesday that it was not more of a threat than the Delta variant.
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