Experts warn daily Covid cases could be as high as 45,000 in England

A hat-trick of studies today confirmed coronavirus cases are surging in England with as many as 45,000 people catching the virus every day and the number of infections doubling in a week at the end of September.

One Government-led study estimated that the infection rate could be almost half of what it was during the darkest days of the crisis in March and April, when scientists believe there were more than 100,000 new cases per day.    

Another report, by the Office for National Statistics, estimated 17,400 contracted the disease each day in England alone in the week ending October 1, which was double the number-crunching agency's prediction last week. 

And statistics published yesterday by Public Health England show that all but three areas of the country have had infection rates rise since last week. Of a total 149 local authorities, only Luton, Wolverhampton and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly had a lower number of cases per person than last week.

Today's ONS report, made using data from the two weeks up to October 1, warns 'the number of infections has increased rapidly in recent weeks', and official tests show cases continued to rise in the first week of October meaning next week's estimate will likely be higher again. 

If its estimate is accurate it suggests the Department of Health's testing programme is now picking up most of the true number of cases, with it managing to diagnose 11,000 people on October 1 - 63 per cent of the ONS's new cases prediction.  

Ministers this morning admitted the spread of the disease is 'getting out of control' as Tory MPs warned against imposing 'Hotel California' local lockdowns which never end.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected on Monday to formally unveil plans to split the country into three tiers, with the worst-hit areas facing the harshest restrictions which may include closing pubs and restaurants to slow the spread of the disease. But experts on the Government's SAGE group fear the tier system is not strong enough to work.

According to reports, members of SAGE believe the planned closure of pubs and restaurants in hotspot areas will not be sufficient to get the virus under control and avoid a second wave. Some believe ministers should have pulled the trigger on a nationwide 'circuit breaker' lockdown in England two or three weeks ago when it was first discussed.  

Scrutiny of the PM's plans has only increased after Nicola Sturgeon yesterday imposed a two-week alcohol ban inside pubs and restaurants across Scotland, while closing bars entirely in coronavirus hotspots. The prospect of new draconian rules being imposed across England has sparked a Tory backlash, with MPs demanding the Government set out in detail how areas subject to the tightest restrictions will be able to get them lifted. 

Some 609 coronavirus patients were admitted to hospital yesterday - an increase of a fifth in a day – and hospitalisations in England breached 500 for the first time since June. They are significantly higher in the Northern regions, where local officials fear they will hit peak levels seen in March and April before the end of this month.

A further 17,540 cases and 77 deaths were reported nationwide yesterday, with the number of people testing positive for the disease every day having nearly tripled in a fortnight. There were 6,634 diagnoses of the disease two weeks ago, on September 24, which is the most recent point of reliable reference after a counting blunder at Public Health England (PHE) rendered last week's data invalid.  

In a more promising update today, SAGE estimated that the R rate for the UK had fallen slightly to between 1.2 and 1.5, from 1.3 and 1.6 last week, while the REACT study said the doubling time of the epidemic had lengthened to almost a month after it warned in September it could be as short as 13 days.

In Britain's latest coronavirus news: 

Office for National Statistics data showed the UK economy grew by just 2.1 per cent in August, much lower than analysts had predicted and far below the 6.4 per cent expansion recored in July; Rishi Sunak will today announce a new local furlough scheme which is expected to pay two thirds of the wages of employees who are unable to work because of lockdowns;   Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds claimed the Chancellor's Jobs Support Scheme is 'forcing businesses to flip a coin over who stays and who goes' because it is cheaper to employ one worker than two to do the same hours;  Former Tory Treasury minister Lord O'Neill called for 'true devolution' to improve the coronavirus response and for a 'tailored' version of the furlough scheme; Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said the Government had 'lost control of the virus' and urged ministers to 'get a grip'. 

The Imperial College London-led REACT study estimates there were 45,000 new cases of coronavirus every day in England during the week ending October 5 - almost half the predicted rate of transmission during the darkest days of the crisis in April

The Imperial College London-led REACT study estimates there were 45,000 new cases of coronavirus every day in England during the week ending October 5 - almost half the predicted rate of transmission during the darkest days of the crisis in April 

A report by the Office for National  Statistics showed that more than 0.4 per cent of people in England were thought to be infected with Covid-19 in the week up to October 1, which was the highest estimate since the data began in May. It suggests that one in every 240 people has the disease, although this varies widely according to which part of the country people are in

A report by the Office for National  Statistics showed that more than 0.4 per cent of people in England were thought to be infected with Covid-19 in the week up to October 1, which was the highest estimate since the data began in May. It suggests that one in every 240 people has the disease, although this varies widely according to which part of the country people are in

Meanwhile, a Public Health England surveillance report published yesterday showed only three places across England have not recorded a rises in their per-person Covid-19 infection rates in the past week - Luton, Wolverhampton and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Meanwhile, a Public Health England surveillance report published yesterday showed only three places across England have not recorded a rises in their per-person Covid-19 infection rates in the past week - Luton, Wolverhampton and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Pressure on the Government to take tough action is growing after infection rates continued to spike, with the north of England particularly badly affected.  

Today's ONS report, made using data from the two weeks up to October 1, warns 'the number of infections has increased rapidly in recent weeks', and official tests show cases continued to rise in the first week of October meaning next week's estimate will likely be higher again. 

ONS experts estimate that 0.41 per cent of England's population had coronavirus in the week ending October 1 - equal to one in every 240 people.

A week earlier the estimate was just 0.21 per cent and today's update said: 'There has been a marked increase in the incidence rate over the last six weeks.'

Britain's coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen slightly, according to the Government's scientific advisers. They say the current R value - the number of people each Covid-19 patient infects - is between 1.2 and 1.5. This is down slightly on last week's range of 1.3 and 1.

Britain's coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen slightly, according to the Government's scientific advisers. They say the current R value - the number of people each Covid-19 patient infects - is between 1.2 and 1.5. This is down slightly on last week's range of 1.3 and 1.

The report is based on a series of 167,332 swab tests done on random people across the country - regardless of whether they feel ill or not -  over a period of two weeks. 588 people tested positive. Historical comparisons are made using tests from six weeks before October 1, which included 356,000 tests and 820 positives. 

There is now a 'clear variation' across different regions of the country, it said, with the highest rates of infection in the North East, where it is around one per cent, and in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West, where it is 0.9 per cent.

This means around one in 100 people are carrying the disease. In the East, South East and South West, however, fewer than 0.25 per cent of people have the illness - less than one in 400. 

Meanwhile teenagers and young adults, between the ages of 11 and 25, continue to drive up the disturbing rates of infection.  

In its 'School Year 12 to Age 24' group, 1.53 per cent of people were estimated to be Covid positive by October 1.  This includes sixth form, college and university students as well as others who are in work or apprenticeships.

The rate was considerably higher than in any other age group, with 0.48 per cent the next highest incidence in 11 to 16-year-olds: 'School Year 7 to School Year 11'.

It was then similar across younger children and working-age adults, between 0.22 and 0.28 per cent, before dropping to the lowest rate of 0.18 per cent among over-70s.

The age data is a ray of hope in the worrying statistics because the lowest infection rate is in the most vulnerable group. Over-70s are by far the most likely to die if they catch coronavirus but they currently appear to be catching it least often.

The REACT study, commissioned by the Department of Health and run by Imperial College London, found similar trends in its separate-but-similar mass testing programme.

The report looked at Covid-19 swabs from 174,949 volunteers tested across England between September 18 and Monday October 5.

It found cases are doubling every 29 days in England, much slower than the 13 days estimated for the period mid August to early September, resulting in a national reproductive rate (the R number) of 1.16.

But at a regional level, the team estimated cases are doubling much quicker – every 17 days in the North West, 13 days in Yorkshire and the Humber and 14 days in the West Midlands. However, they said the doubling time may be as low as seven days in Yorkshire and the West Midlands, and every nine days in the North West.

Across England, about one in 170 people currently have the virus and there are approximately 45,000 new infections each day, the report continued. It warned of 'high prevalence' of Covid-19 across England and said 'prevalence has increased in all age groups, including those at highest risk'. 

The Government is now facing urgent calls for action and must respond to fears that the outbreak is heading for the devastating levels that were seen in March and April.

Gillian Keegan, Conservative MP for Chichester and minister for apprenticeships and skills, told the BBC's Question Time programme last night that two thirds of hospitalisations are happening in the North West and North East of England, as well as in Yorkshire. 

RISHI SUNAK TO ANNOUNCE NEW LOCAL LOCKDOWN FURLOUGH SCHEME TODAY 

Rishi Sunak will today announce a new local furlough scheme which is expected to pay two thirds of the wages of employees who are unable to work because of lockdowns.

The Treasury has confirmed the Chancellor will be making an announcement later on how he intends to 'provide a safety net' for businesses which 'may have to close in the coming weeks'.

The promise of fresh support for jobs comes as the Government prepares to unveil its new three tier strategy for local lockdowns next week.

Parts of the country which are put in the highest tier are due to be told that pubs, restaurants and cafes will have to close to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Treasury faces having to foot the bill for another furlough scheme as large chunks of the country prepare to return to near-lockdown

Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Treasury faces having to foot the bill for another furlough scheme as large chunks of the country prepare to return to near-lockdown

The prospect of widespread closures across the hospitality industry in hotspot areas has prompted warnings of massive job losses and fuelled calls for the Chancellor to bring forward fresh support.

However, any fresh spending announced by Mr Sunak will raise further fears about the pressure on the government finances with borrowing already set to top £300 billion this year.

The furlough plans emerged as the Office for National Statistics announced that the UK economy grew by just 2.1 per cent in August - much lower than had been expected. 

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She said: 'This is serious, it is getting out of control and we have to do something to bring it back under control.' 

Her stark admission came amid reports that experts on the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) fear Mr Johnson's planned tier system does not go far enough.

According to the Guardian members of SAGE believe the planned closure of pubs and restaurants in hotspot areas will not be sufficient to get the virus under control and avoid a second wave. 

Some believe ministers should have pulled the trigger on a nationwide 'circuit breaker' lockdown in England two or three weeks ago when it was first discussed.  

Scrutiny of the PM's plans has only increased after Nicola Sturgeon yesterday imposed a two-week alcohol ban inside pubs and restaurants across Scotland, while closing bars entirely in coronavirus hotspots. 

The prospect of new draconian rules being imposed across England has sparked a Tory backlash, with MPs demanding the Government set out in detail how areas subject to the tightest restrictions will be able to get them lifted. 

Ministers have been accused of using flimsy data after they relied on figures based on fewer than 100 pubs to justify the potential closure of tens of thousands of venues across the North of England. 

Jake Berry, the former Northern Powerhouse minister, told the Telegraph: 'Crucially, they need to show not just how you go into a tier but how you leave a tier because no one wants to be caught in a 'Hotel California lockdown' with all the damage that will cause the local economy.' 

There is also a growing revolt among northern political leaders as Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, promised to challenge new rules 'in any way I can' if the Government closes businesses 'without providing proper compensation'. 

There were an average of 17,200 new cases per day of Covid-19 in private households in England between September 25 and October 1, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up from an estimated 8,400 new cases per day for the period from September 18 to 24. The ONS said there has been a 'marked increase' in the rate of new infections over the last six weeks. The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.  

Mr Johnson is said to be holding meetings in Downing Street today to hammer out the final details of his plans. 

It came as Chancellor Rishi Sunak prepares to announce a new local furlough scheme to prop up jobs in lockdown areas and as ministers lashed out at Mr Johnson's plans being leaked to the press four days before they are due to be announced. 

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi said such leaks are 'corrosive' and result in 'confusion' as he insisted the 'right thing to do is to wait for the decision'.    

Meanwhile, it emerged overnight that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Britons may need to shield indoors for months, with fresh coronavirus curbs likely to last until at least April to stop the NHS from collapsing. 

It is thought advice for clinically at-risk people to avoid contact with others could be included in the top tier of the PM's 'traffic light' local lockdown system.  

CORONAVIRUS CASES DOUBLE IN A WEEK IN ENGLAND, ONS SHOWS 

The number of people catching coronavirus every day in England more than doubled in the last week of September to a staggering 17,400, according to the ONS.

Weekly data from the Office for National Statistics warns 224,400 people had the virus on October 1, up from 116,000 a week earlier.

It comes as MPs have warned the virus is 'out of control' now in the UK and the Government has not made any new announcements on what it is doing this week.

Today's report warns 'the number of infections has increased rapidly in recent weeks'.

The estimated numbers of daily new infections have surged since they hit hopeful lows of 2,000 per day in the summer

The estimated numbers of daily new infections have surged since they hit hopeful lows of 2,000 per day in the summer

There is a 'clear variation' across different regions of the country, the ONS said, with the highest rates of infection in the North West, North East and

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