They said the upwards direction of cases is ‘very serious’ and that the Government’s Three-Tier system has slowed the virus but failed to put its spread into reverse.
And warned hospitals are today treating four times as many women aged between 20 and 40 than men. They said this was because women were more likely to work in educational and healthcare settings, putting them at greater risk of being exposed to the virus.
‘Tier Three (is) probably slowing the growth a little bit but it isn’t stopping it, nevermind reducing it,’ warned Professor John Edmunds from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
‘If you assume that Tier Three will hold the reproduction number of one that means that places that are in Tier Three not only have very high incidence, but will continue to have very high incidence for the forseeable future. Meanwhile, the rest of the country catches up.’
But other scientists have insisted the Government should instead find a way to live with the virus – or the country may face ‘five to ten years’ of intermittent lockdowns.
Department of Health data shows that only half of Liverpools local authorities recorded a drop in infections during the first week of the harshest restrictions.
And in Lancashire, although the harshest curbs put the brakes on spiking infections, the number of cases in the region continued to rise.
It comes after Public Health England’s weekly surveillance report revealed Covid-19 outbreaks were still growing in 130 of 150 local authorities in England in the week ending October 24.
No local authorities have rates below 20 cases per 100,000 – as seen in mid-August – and the level at which the Government considers imposing curbs on travel to other countries.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago
Separate data from King’s College London predicted England has around 32,000 cases per day and claimed infections are rising ‘steadily’ and ‘have not spiralled out of control’
Professor John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned the Government’s Tier system had failed. But Professor Sunetra Gupta, from the University of Oxford, warned the Government should find a way to live with the virus
THREE IN FOUR FEAR CURBS MORE THAN VIRUS
ALMOST three in four Britons are more worried about the impact of lockdown restrictions than catching the virus, says a poll.
Young people are most concerned about the mental health impact, while a third of pensioners are worried about the suspension of cancer screening.
The results come from a poll by the Recovery group, which is campaigning against excessive Covid restrictions.
Its co-founder, Jon Dobinson, said: ‘This poll shows that more and more people share our concerns about the terrible damage lockdowns, fear and restrictions are doing.’
Pollsters asked 2,000 adults to rank their biggest concerns during the pandemic. Catching Covid was the top worry for 29 per cent, followed by mental health at 23 per cent and the suspension of cancer screening at 21 per cent. Eleven per cent were most concerned by job prospects and 10 per cent by the impact on children.
Mental health was the top concern for 18 to 34-year-olds and Londoners were the most worried about losing their jobs.
Professor Edmunds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme a second national lockdown could save Christmas.
‘I think the idea of a lockdown is to save lives primarily,’ he said, ‘and the only real way that we have to relatively save Christmas is to get the incidence rate right down’.
‘Otherwise, Christmas I think is very difficult for people and nobody wants to have a disrupted Christmas holiday period, where you can’t see your family and so on.
‘So I think the only way that that can be safely achieved is to bring the incidence rate right down and in order to do that we have to take action right now, and that action needs to be stringent unfortunately.’
He added that the UK has been above SAGE’s reasonable worst case scenario for some time, and is likely to face more than 85,000 deaths from the virus.
‘If you look at all the figures together, the direction is very serious,’ he said.
‘Hospitalisations are increasing rapidly, cases are increasing rapidly, in fact today we’re almost certainly going to confirm our millionth coronavirus case.
‘I think it’s really unthinkable now that we don’t count our deaths in tens of thousands in this way. The issue is is that going to be low tens of thousands if we take radical action now or is that going to be the high tens of thousands if we don’t.’
Professor Calum Semple, an epidemiologist from Liverpool University, warned today the figures make it clear a ‘second wave’ is sweeping the UK.
‘It’s a slightly slower growth than we had in the Spring, but like a super tanker it’s really moving now,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘We’ve got baked into the system many more cases, particularly in younger females between the ages of 20 and 40. We’re seeing three to four times as many women between the ages of 20 and 40 coming into hospital than men.
‘Now that’s because they’re exposed in retail, hospitality and some educational settings. So for the naysayers that don’t believe in a second wave, there is a second wave, and unlike the first wave where we had a national lockdown which protected huge swathes of society, this outbreak is now running riot across all age groups.’
Percentage change in coronavirus cases across England in the week to October 25: The five local authorities where the infection rate grew the most are: Kingston upon Hull City, 92.81 per cent; Derby, 91.84 per cent; North Somerset, 82.99 per cent; Medway, 77.17 per cent; and Bath and North East Somerset 69.72 per cent
He added the Tier system had failed to stop the virus spreading, saying it only led to them ‘not accelerating quite as fast’.
‘The R number is still above one, so cases are still increasing, it’s just they’re starting to increase slightly slower. So even if we plateau on a tier three restriction, we’ll be plateauing at a bad place, and that’s why there’s advice about a national lockdown.’
But Professor Sunetra Gupta, from the University of Oxford, said the Government should look at alternative measures to avoid getting locked in a cycle of locking down for various periods over the next few years.
‘Infections are building now, because some areas do not have the immunity we would have expected had we not gone into complete lockdown,’ she said.
She said the Government’s plan suggests ‘what we’re looking at are continued lockdowns over five to ten years – some people are predicting’.
She is one of the lead scientists behind the Barrington Declaration – which calls on Governments to consider other means of controlling the current pandemic besides destructive lockdowns.
They suggest that the population should be split, with young people allowed to continue as normal while older and more vulnerable people are required to shield.