Covid-19 cases are soaring among middle-aged people in England and have almost doubled in a fortnight as the outbreak continues to grow, official figures show.
Public Health England (PHE) data reveals 23.4 cases are now diagnosed for every 100,000 people aged between 40 and 49 — up from 12.4 at the end of August. And coronavirus infection rates have doubled in just a week for people in their fifties, jumping from 10.9 to 20.
The most up-to-date PHE data, which was released on Friday, clearly shows cases are spiralling across every age group. People in their twenties — who aren't as vulnerable to the disease and are likely to escape death or serious illness — are driving the spike, with an infection rate of 46.
Fears of a second wave are growing as the number of Britons being diagnosed with Covid-19 each day has topped 3,000 for the first time since May. Ministers have also been spooked by spiralling outbreaks in Spain and France and rising hospital admissions.
Hospital admissions — another way of measuring the severity of the pandemic — have doubled in England over the past ten days. More than 150 newly-infected patients required NHS treatment on Sunday, up from a rolling seven-day average of 56 the week before.
But government officials believe a second wave of Covid-19 in Britain would not be nearly as bad as the first — which killed between 40 and 55,000 people — because we are better at containing and treating the virus now.
The experts believe a combination of local lockdowns, social distancing measures and medical breakthroughs would substantially reduce both the death rate and number of cases.
Hospital admissions — another way of measuring the severity of the pandemic — have doubled in England over the past ten days. More than 150 newly-infected patients required NHS treatment on Sunday, up from a rolling seven-day average of 56 the week before
Hopes are also high that vaccines could be available as early as next spring, with a 'long pipeline' of promising jabs being trialled.
In addition, early signs from the southern hemisphere indicate that any flu outbreak will be less severe than in previous years.
It comes as top Belgium scientist Jean-Luc Gala said Belgium's rising infection rate is 'completely normal' and ongoing lockdown measures should be relaxed. He told French-language newspaper La Dernière Heure that 'people no longer suffer from the coronavirus, but measures to stop it.'
He said people should not worry as the virus 'is circulating in a category that does not suffer from it, young people who will at worst have small symptoms, at best nothing at all'. He said people who the virus only midly affects becoming infected is beneficial as it contributes to wide-spread immunity.
Ministers had been concerned that a