The UK recorded 52,009 new Covid cases in the latest 24 hours – the first time the number has topped 50,000 in three months and the highest since July 17 – representing a 17.9% increase in the last seven days.
The daily number of patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus (data provided on October 17) was 959 with 6,315 recorded for the week – a 15.4% rise.
The number of deaths recorded (within 28 days of a positive Covid test) is 115 – taking the total for the last seven days to 912, a 10.8% increase over the week. The overall death toll is now 139,146 while the total deaths with Covid-19 on the death certificate is now 162,620
Doctors call for plan B
Doctors in England are pressing the government to implement ‘Plan B’ which would see the return of mandatory mask wearing and advice to work from home.
However, health secretary Sajid Javid has ruled out implementing plan B “at this point” in a statement made on Wednesday in which he said the public must “play their part” in order to be able to enjoy Christmas.
Boris Johnson – on a trip to Northern Ireland to mark the centenary of the partition of Ireland – echoed Javid’s comments, telling reporters the numbers of deaths and infections are within the parameters of what the predictions were… given the steps we’ve taken”.
The prime minister said the country is in an “incomparably better position than last year because of vaccines” and added, the “most important thing people can do is get that booster jab…when you get the call, get the jab”.
The prime minister’ unwillingness to mandate masks or reintroduce other restrictions clashes with the British Medical Association who said the government’s inaction would constitute “wilful negligence” and evidences a failure to learn lessons from last week’s damning report on its handling of the pandemic. That report – from the Commons’ health and science committees, led by two former Conservative ministers – said Britain’s response to the pandemic was one of the worst public health failures in UK history, with the crisis exposing “major deficiencies in the machinery of government”.
‘The vaccine security wall against the virus is crumbling,’ says Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, said plan A is failing and called for the booster vaccination programme to be ramped up.
“The government said that the vaccine would be the security wall against the virus and now the government is letting that wall crumble.
“We’ve seen those that most need it not able to get the jab they need. Only, I think, 17% of children have got the vaccine. And the booster programme has slowed down so much that at this rate we’re not going to complete it until spring of next year.
“So the government needs to change these, it needs to get a grip. I think it needs to drive those numbers up to at least 500,000 vaccines a day. And that can be done, I think, by using community pharmacists … pop-up centres for vaccines, and mobilising those retired health workers as we did before.”
The general secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham called for the government not to repeat the complacency of last autumn” by delaying restrictions.
Plan C could see households mixing ban at Christmas
Media outlets are reporting the Cabinet Office is discussing a ‘plan C’ which could ban – once again – people from different households from mixing at Christmas.
“The focus is very much on measures that can be taken without a major economic impact, so keeping shops, pubs and restaurants open but looking at other ways to reduce the risks,” said a Whitehall source quoted by the Telegraph.