Rise in UK Covid cases above 1,000 a day breached government target

1,000 confirmed new cases of Covid-19 a day.

For comparison ONS latest estimate is 3,700.

The Covid symptom study estimates 1,626.

The Covid symptom study tracking the day by day evolution shows cases falling until July 8/9 then rising to July 27/28, and now falling slowly again.

However East Devon is currently showing as a potential local hot spot with 798 active prevalent cases per million i.e.includes period of continuing infectivity. (Around 55 cases).

Sarah Boseley www.theguardian.com 

The rise above 1,000 daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK breaches the ceiling that the government’s own Joint Biosecurity Centre said was acceptable in May, it has emerged.

After the number of tested and confirmed cases rose to 1,062 in 24 hours at the weekend – the first time the daily total has exceeded 1,000 since late June – a senior public health expert said the escalation was “unacceptable, ineffective and dangerous”.

Prof Gabriel Scally, president of epidemiology and public health at the Royal Society of Medicine and a member of Independent Sage, said the government was failing to suppress the virus by its own standards.

“Something’s got to change, otherwise we are really in for an extraordinarily difficult time,” he said.

“It’s bad, and at the back of it all is that the government does not have a strategy. The last time they published a strategy for Covid-19 was 3 March. What they have published is a strategy for removing social restriction, but that’s not about dealing with the virus. They have no strategy for dealing with the virus that they have ever made public.”

In a 20 May document on the website of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), the Joint Biosecurity Centre set out targets that it felt needed to be met if “flare-ups” of Covid-19 were to be avoided.

Top of the list was keeping the caseload below 1,000 confirmed infections a day. “Decreasing daily incidence of symptomatic cases in all regions across the UK until the target acceptable incidence is reached, then incidence kept below that target. This target is yet to be specified and needs to be spelt out. We suggest 1,000 new symptomatic swab +ve [positive] cases per day in the UK,” it says.

The government’s official dashboard says there were 1,062 tested and confirmed cases as of 9am on Sunday 9 August. New cases dropped to 816 on Monday morning, the government said; infections counted on Sunday tend to be lower than on other days.

Other sources, including the Office for National Statistics, suggest far more infections are not being picked up by testing, many of them symptomless. Last week they estimated that there were 3,700 new cases per day. The NHS test-and-trace programme has appealed for more people to come forward for testing.

Independent Sage, the group of scientists who came together amid concerns over government policy and lack of transparency, said the current test-and-trace system in the community does not work. The centralised, privatised call centre system should be scrapped when it comes up for renewal on 23 August, they said in a report published on Monday.

Contracts with the private providers Serco and Sitel should be cancelled, it added. Their contact tracers reached only 56% of the 91,785 contacts of newly infected people transferred from the test system over nine weeks, the report said.

The group called for help and support, including financial assistance, for people asked to self-isolate, and warned that many would be living in crowded conditions or in multi-generational families and that those on zero hours contracts would feel obliged to carry on working.

“If we don’t take isolation seriously, our economy will spiral downwards. We should have had an effective isolation policy in February, with better pandemic planning. Not to have one six months later is nothing short of public health malpractice,” said the report.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said of the rise in cases to more than 1,000 in a day: “The UK continues to have low levels of disease compared to the start of the pandemic and, thanks to our large testing capacity, we are able to detect more cases now than ever before. We will not hesitate to take necessary steps to stop the spread of the virus and continue to urge the public to play their part by following government guidance.”

Another 21 deaths were added to the official government statistics on Monday, bringing the total confirmed to have died with Covid-19 to 46,526. More than 1,000 people are in hospital, of whom 67 are on ventilators.

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