'Worrying' signs of infection in the old as R rate rises above 1

There are 'worrying' signs of coronavirus growing among middle-aged people, with Covid infections in the over-50s soaring by 92 per cent as SAGE warns the UK is on the brink of 'losing control' of the virus. 

More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus were officially recorded yesterday while a Government-led study by Imperial College London showed the number of infections was doubling each week. 

Public Health England (PHE) data seen by The Daily Telegraph suggests that Covid-19 cases are surging among the over-50s, as senior officials last night warned of 'worrying' signs for high-risk groups.  

Last week, infections apparently increased 92 per cent among those in their 50s, 72 per cent among those in their 60s, and 44 per cent among those in their 80s and older.  

There was a 20 per cent increase in Covid-related admissions last week compared with the previous week among those aged 60-75, a 72 per cent increase among 75 to 84-year-olds, and a 67 per cent rise in those 85 and over.

A PHE source told the newspaper there is a massive concern in official circles that the spike in Covid cases could lead to more hospitalisations, adding: 'The great worry is that that is what's coming next.' 

The Government is imposing panic restrictions across England, with Boris Johnson's draconian new 'rule of six' due to kick into force on Monday amid fears the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7. 

Yvonne Doyle, medical director at PHE, said: '3,539 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported overnight, compared to 2,919 yesterday. Most of these cases are people tested in the community. 

'Although younger people continue to make up the greatest share of new cases, we're now starting to see worrying signs of infections occurring in the elderly, who are at far higher risk of getting seriously ill.

'This is a reminder of the ongoing risk as the virus spreads throughout the UK. People should continue to follow social distancing rules, wash their hands regularly and wear a face covering in enclosed spaces.'

She told The Times last night: 'You should not mix with others when unwell.'

PHE data seen by The Daily Telegraph suggests that Covid-19 cases are surging among the over-50s, as senior officials last night warned of 'worrying' signs for high-risk groups. Last week, infections apparently increased 92 per cent among those in their 50s, 72 per cent among those in their 60s, and 44 per cent among those in their 80s and older

PHE data seen by The Daily Telegraph suggests that Covid-19 cases are surging among the over-50s, as senior officials last night warned of 'worrying' signs for high-risk groups. Last week, infections apparently increased 92 per cent among those in their 50s, 72 per cent among those in their 60s, and 44 per cent among those in their 80s and older

Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: '3,539 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported overnight, compared to 2,919 yesterday. Most of these cases are people tested in the community'

Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: '3,539 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported overnight, compared to 2,919 yesterday. Most of these cases are people tested in the community'

The Government is imposing panic restrictions across England, with Boris Johnson's draconian new 'rule of six' due to kick into force on Monday amid fears the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7

The Government is imposing panic restrictions across England, with Boris Johnson's draconian new 'rule of six' due to kick into force on Monday amid fears the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7 

More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus were officially recorded yesterday while a Government-led study by Imperial College London showed the number of infections was doubling each week

More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus were officially recorded yesterday while a Government-led study by Imperial College London showed the number of infections was doubling each week

Experts who have been swabbing tens of thousands of people in England found 13 people per 10,000 were infected between August 22 and September 7, compared to four per 10,000 between July 24 and August 11.

Weekly cases in men aged 60 to 69 rose from 221 to 352 in the past week, an increase of 60 per cent, while among women in the same age group there was a 72 per cent jump from 219 to 376.

Was Eat Out to Help Out behind Britain's Covid case spike? 'Rapid acceleration' in cases could be linked to hugely popular scheme, Oxford researcher says 

A 'rapid acceleration' in coronavirus cases could be linked to the hugely popular Eat Out to Help Out scheme, an Oxford University researcher has said. 

The scheme, which involved the government fronting 50 per cent of the bill up to £10 per head at participating restaurants from Monday to Wednesday, has been hailed as the hospitality industry's saviour. 

However, a new report from Oxford University public policy researcher Toby Phillips suggests the scheme may have contributed to a 'rapid acceleration' in reported infections in Britain and 'encouraged extravagant levels of eating out'. 

Today a Government-led study revealed that coronavirus infections are doubling every week and the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7. 

According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, this dramatic increase in cases warrants additional measures being rolled out, including the controversial strict new rule of six, which will legally prohibit gatherings of more than six people.     

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Officials had said that while the rise in cases was apparent in younger age groups, it was likely to move on to older people, which would be followed by an increase in hospitalisations.      

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the alleged spike in coronavirus infections justifies the Government's 'arbitrary' new 'rule of six', warning people 'the pandemic is not over'. 

The Imperial College London REACT-1 study found the epidemic is doubling in size every 'seven to eight days'. By comparison, Covid-19 infections were increasing by twofold every three days at the start of the crisis. 

The Department of Health confirmed on Friday another 3,539 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and six more people have died. The new diagnoses are the highest since May 17.

And data from the Office for National Statistics suggests 3,200 people are getting sick every day in England and Wales - a surge of 45 per cent from last week's prediction of 2,200. 

The number of people testing positive may be higher because they were not all tested on the same day and test results take time to process, meaning they are not evenly distributed.    

The Imperial findings were published as the Government prepares to impose its new 'rule of six' social gathering restriction from Monday which outlaws groups of seven or more people from meeting up indoors and outdoors.

Mr Hancock said on Friday: 'The pandemic is not over, and everyone has a role to play. It's so important that everyone abides by the law and socialise in groups up to six, make space between you and those outside your household, get a test and self-isolate if you develop symptoms and wash your hands regularly.' 

SAGE urging the public to adhere to the new 'rule of six', with Sir Mark Walport claiming today that the UK is 'on the edge of losing control' of coronavirus. 

Speaking to the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme, Government scientist Sir Mark said that the Government-led study on the 'R' rate showed that people contracting coronavirus 'weren't worried about catching it'. 

He recommended a 'mixture of carrots and sticks', adding: 'It's one thing to have a rule, it's a question of adhering to it. It's a question of making sure in public spaces... that the landlords actually do make people behave.

'I think that we are on the edge of losing control (of the virus). You only have to look across the Channel to see what's happening in France, and what's happening in Spain. 

More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus were officially recorded yesterday while a Government-led study by Imperial College London showed the number of infections was doubling each week

 More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus were officially recorded yesterday while a Government-led study by Imperial College London showed the number of infections was doubling each week

'Only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we come into contact with. It means we're going to have to hold back our contacts in other areas. 

'Where people can work from home, there is an extremely strong argument that they should do so. It's very difficult to control a disease if you can't test for it and identify it.' 

Michael Gove played a key role in forcing through the rule of six at Covid cabinet meeting - and has 'been consistently on the side of the toughest approach', says source 

Michael Gove played a key role in pushing through this week's controversial Covid-19 clampdown, it emerged last night.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was heavily outnumbered at a meeting of Boris Johnson's Covid cabinet on Tuesday when he put forward plans to cut the limit on social gatherings to just six.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Business Secretary Alok Sharma, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Home Secretary Priti Patel are understood to have made the case for a higher limit of at least eight. 

But a Cabinet source said Mr Gove had also played a pivotal role in ensuring that the controversial rule of six was brought in. 

'Michael was driving this. For some time now he's been consistently on the side of the toughest, most heavy-handed approach,' the source said.

'There was a lot of dissent. The PM was completely torn, and the meeting did not conclude well.'

One Cabinet minister told the Mail: 'The numbers are awful and it is clear we have got to do something.

'But the idea of the Government threatening to fine and arrest people for seeing their families makes me feel sick.' 

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It comes amid reports that Boris Johnson drawing up tough new plans to crack down on people who flout quarantine restrictions after an official study claimed that 20 per cent routinely ignore self-isolation rules. 

The Prime Minister is thought to be considering a 'carrot and stick' approach where people who follow Government instructions could be given bigger payments while they isolate. 

Police have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for breaching quarantine, though they have barely been used, with just 34 people having been penalised since the measures were introduced.   

Ministers are even creating a hotline for snoopers to report neighbours who are breaking quarantine rules to the police - a measure encouraged by officers at the start of lockdown.

The proposal was discussed by Cabinet ministers on Tuesday, according to The Times. A Government source told the newspaper that the hotline plans were 'exploratory' but not yet official policy. 

An increase in spot checks by public health officials is also being prepared by ministers whose 'rule of six' outlawing social gatherings of seven or more people comes into force in England on Monday. 

The Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference last week that the Government was planning to recruit 'Covid marshals' to enforce coronavirus-specific guidance such as social distancing.

Under the strict new measures, groups of more than six can be broken up by police who will be able to hand out £100 fines to those who flout the rules. This will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200.  

Ministers are planning on bringing in tougher measures to make sure that arrivals to the UK provide their contact details at airports as the Government panics about an alleged spike in Covid cases. 

The Government's new quarantine restrictions on travellers from Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion came into force today at 4am after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps removed the countries from its quarantine exemption list - meaning new arrivals coming into England must self-isolate for 14 days.   

MPs have slammed Government attempts to impose the anti-Covid restrictions on Monday without a debate in Parliament, with Speaker Lindsay Hoyle threatening to force an urgent question if Matt Hancock refused to appear before the House of Commons.  

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove today urged people to act 'in tune with' the rules this weekend ahead of the 'rule of six' coming into force or risk increasing the rate of spread of coronavirus. 

Boris Johnson is drawing up tough new plans to crack down on people who flout quarantine restrictions after an official study claimed that 20 per cent of Covid patients routinely ignore self-isolation rules

Boris Johnson is drawing up tough new plans to crack down on people who flout quarantine restrictions after an official study claimed that 20 per cent of Covid patients routinely ignore self-isolation rules 

Police have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for breaching quarantine, though they have barely been used (pictured: protestors at Wollaton Hall Park Nottingham, on May 16, 2020. Two mass gatherings were due to take place in Nottingham)

Police have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for breaching quarantine, though they have barely been used (pictured: protestors at Wollaton Hall Park Nottingham, on May 16, 2020. Two mass gatherings were due to take place in Nottingham)

Cabinet at war over the rule of six: Almost every minister on Boris Johnson's Covid committee argued against the stringent limit - and even the PM himself was 'cautious'- but Matt Hancock got his way 

Boris Johnson's Covid clampdown has divided his Cabinet, it emerged last night.

He faces a fierce Tory backlash over the contentious 'rule of six' that bans gatherings of seven or more from Monday.

A string of senior ministers opposed the measure at a crunch meeting, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak among those to speak out.

A Cabinet source said the rule of six was opposed by every member of the Prime Minister's coronavirus strategy committee on Tuesday apart from Matt Hancock. The Health Secretary is said to have driven the decision, supported by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

'Everyone apart from Hancock wanted to set the limit on groups at eight or more,' the source said.

'Even the PM was initially cautious about taking the limit all the way down to six. The majority view was that this level of social distancing will have a huge impact on people's lives and the economy. But Hancock got his way.'

Announcing the crackdown on Wednesday, Mr Johnson insisted it was needed to keep virus cases under control even though it 'broke his heart' to keep families apart.

Downing Street denied the Prime Minister had been steered into the decision by Mr Hancock and the scientific advisers. 'The PM wasn't talked round by anyone,' said an insider.

But multiple sources confirmed that ministers on the high-powered committee had disagreed about how far to cut the 30-person legal limit on gatherings. 'I wouldn't characterise it as a row, but it's fair to say there was a vigorous debate,' said one.

Mr Sunak is said to have pushed for the limit to be at least eight and Business Secretary Alok Sharma is thought to have argued for a higher figure. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is also said to have raised concerns. 

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His intervention comes as officials tell the Mail that a second national lockdown can be avoided if people follow the new 'rule of six'. 

Mr Gove told BBC Breakfast this morning: 'If people do behave in a way that is not really in line or in tune with the guidelines that have been put out then they are putting other people at risk.

'The reason why the country's police chiefs have said that they hope people behave with appropriate restraint this weekend is we do not want to see a further acceleration of the spread of the virus.'

He denied that the Government was losing control of Covid-19. 'No. I don't accept that,' he said. 

Mr Gove also rubbished claims that Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Eat Out To Help Out programme contributed to the spread of coronavirus, and said fines could be necessary in order to enforce self-isolation rules.

Speaking to the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme, he said: 'We're not saying people shouldn't see their friends but there does need to be a degree of self-discipline, of restriction to deal with the challenges we are facing.'

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also responded to criticism of the Government's anti-Covid crackdown, saying people can only have freedom if it is exercised 'responsibly'.  

'I don't want to see fines being levied but even more I do not want to see people behaving in a way that puts the most vulnerable at risk,' Mr Gove told the Today programme this morning. 

'Well there are restrictions, and I love freedom, but the one thing I think is even more important is that you exercise freedom with responsibility. 

'When you are exercising freedom, you should do so in a way that does not do harm to others.' 

Responding to Sir Mark's warnings, Mr Gove added: 'I think Sir Mark's words... is a warning to us all. There's a range of scientific opinion but one thing on which practically every scientist is agreed is that we have seen an uptick in infection and therefore it is appropriate we take public health measures.' 

Public health officials point to an alleged spike in Covid cases, with a Government-led study published yesterday suggesting that the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7 in England. 

As hundreds of Britons enjoyed a final weekend of freedom, police bosses urged people to look after each other and avoid a 'party weekend' before the restrictions are implemented. 

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: 'There is a real risk

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