UK coronavirus cases reach 6,000 – highest level since 1 May

Surge in cases is highest since peak of lockdown

Harry Cockburn
Wednesday 23 September 2020 20:51 BST
Coronavirus in numbers

New UK coronavirus cases hit 6,178 on Wednesday, according to the latest government data.

The number is the highest daily level since 1 May, when the UK was in full lockdown.

The government also said there had been 37 deaths of people within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, the same number as on Tuesday which itself was the most recorded since July 14.

The number of coronavirus cases has been rising rapidly in Britain, prompting the government on Tuesday to announce a series of new restrictions in a bid to curb a second wave of the outbreak.

The official statistics showed 409,729 people had tested positive for the virus with 41,862 deaths.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,500 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, according to PA.

The surge in cases comes after Boris Johnson’s government has introduced a raft of new measures designed to slow the spread of the deadly virus, with as little impact on the economy as possible.

These include a 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants, shop staff will have to wear face masks and maximum attendance at weddings will be reduced from 30 to 15 people.

Fines for breaking laws on gatherings and not wearing a mask will increase to £200 for a first offence.

But the prime minister warned “significantly greater restrictions” could be brought in if necessary.

The 10pm pub closures have also been introduced in Wales and Scotland.

But the government has said businesses, schools, colleges and universities will remain open.

As a result of the rise in coronavirus cases, on Wednesday chancellor Rishi Sunak called off plans for a Budget later this year, Treasury sources confirmed.

The chancellor had been expected to deliver his second budget of 2020 within the next few weeks, but this will not now go ahead. Mr Sunak is now weighing up plans for more support for businesses hit by the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.

Professor James Naismith, of the University of Oxford and director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said: “Today’s spike in positive Covid-19 cases is very unwelcome news. It is part of a trend and there is no doubt the virus is taking off again.

But he noted the sudden jump in cases could “reflect issues in the testing system reporting”.

“It seems very unlikely we are back to a doubling of cases every three to four days. We will need to see a few more days of data to judge how fast case numbers are doubling.

“Sadly, the increased numbers of positive cases will in time translate into serious illness and death. Medical and scientific advances will significantly reduce this toll compared to the height of the pandemic, provided that hospitals are not overwhelmed by excessive numbers of cases.”

He added: “We are not spectators, by isolating when ill, washing our hands, masking and distancing wherever possible we will all help reduce the toll. Whilst no one is absolutely safe from serious illness, the risk of Covid-19 is predominantly faced by the elderly and vulnerable.”

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