Coronavirus UK: 21 new fatalities and 816 infections

A further 816 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in Britain and 21 more patients have died, official statistics revealed today. 

The update takes the total number of fatalities to 46,595 and means there have now been 311,641 people diagnosed with the disease since January. 

Today’s data comes amid concerns the virus is starting to spread out of control again after 1,062 people were diagnosed yesterday – the first time since June 25 that the daily rise was more than 1,000. 

But today’s statistics have shown a 23 per cent drop in new cases, which also brings the seven day average down a notch from 877 per day to 860.

And other promising data shows that the number of people receiving hospital treatment for Covid-19 in England has plummeted by 96 per cent since April.

Survival rates in intensive care units are improving thanks to improved understanding of the disease and experimental treatments, and smaller proportions of people catching the disease are needing life-saving medical help. 

Government focus now is on getting children back to school and a row has broken out between politicians and unions over reopening classrooms across the UK. 

NHS England today confirmed six more people died in its hospitals between July 29 and August 9.

Two of those were in the North East and Yorkshire region, with the other four all dying in the East of England.

And Northern Ireland’s government confirmed another death had been confirmed there over the weekend.

Today marks the 25th day in a row that no more deaths have been confirmed in Scotland. 

While the number of people dying of Covid-19 in Britain is now very low and continuing to fall, concerns have turned to the number of cases being diagnosed each day.

Yesterday, Sunday, the daily count tipped above 1,000 for the first time in around six weeks when 1,062 people received a positive test result.

The country had not seen an increase so large since June 25, when 1,118 cases were reported in a single day.

The numbers come almost exactly a fortnight after Boris Johnson predicted a second wave in two weeks.

On July 28, a senior government source said the Prime Minister was ‘extremely concerned’ by outbreaks ‘bubbling up’, both at home and abroad.

Even as case numbers are increasing, however, the number of people going to hospital with the virus continues to fall and is now at the lowest level of the entire outbreak. 

Hospital admissions are now making up a smaller percentage of total new coronavirus cases, data shows, falling from more than a quarter at the end of April, when widespread testing began, to less than 10 per cent in August

Hospital admissions are now making up a smaller percentage of total new coronavirus cases, data shows, falling from more than a quarter at the end of April, when widespread testing began, to less than 10 per cent in August

In the seven days leading up to August 5, 375 people were hospitalised with Covid-19 in England, compared to 18,638 between March 28 and April 3.

While the number of patients in hospitals would be expected to drop as cases decline and the virus fades out, data suggests fewer people are getting severely ill.

The proportion of coronavirus patients who need hospital care – regardless of the true number – seems to be falling.

Since late April, when testing first started to become available outside of hospitals, the proportion of positive cases being hospitalised has dropped from around a quarter to less than 10 per cent, averaging seven per cent – just one in every 14 – over the past week.

Experts say better treatments, more hospital capacity and some levels of immunity may have helped push down the need for hospital care.

Survival rates have improved, too, with eight in 10 intensive care patients now making it through their illness, up from fewer than half in April.

The total number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in England peaked at 17,172 on April 12 and has now dropped to just 638 on August 7

The total number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in England peaked at 17,172 on April 12 and has now dropped to just 638 on August 7

The number of people on ventilators was highest April 12 at 2,881, and has since dropped to 57 on August 7

The number of people on ventilators was highest April 12 at 2,881, and has since dropped to 57 on August 7

The NHS faces a huge backlog of non-coronavirus patients after emptying its hospital wards to prepare for a surge in people sick with Covid-19. Falling levels of hospitalisations could help the health service get back on its feet if the virus remains under control. 

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in England peaked at 17,172 on April 12, and the number of people on ventilators was highest on the same day, at 2,881.

This has since plummeted by 96 per cent to 638 people in hospital on August 7, and 98 per cent to 57 people on ventilators.

Patients on ventilators are usually the most ill and have to be hooked up to the life support machine to help them breathe by forcing air into their damaged lungs.

The most new admissions to hospitals happened on March 31 when there were 3,099 people taken into hospital with the disease.

On August 5 – the most recent day for which there is data – just 21 people were admitted.

That was the lowest figure so far in the epidemic and represents just three per cent of the 820 new cases that had been diagnosed each day, on average, over the last week.

That percentage – the number of hospital patients compared to the average number of people diagnosed over the past week – shows approximately how many officially tested people become so ill that they need to go to hospital.

Testing for people outside of hospital first became available on April 23, at which time around a quarter of people testing positive were hospital inpatients.

This has now been consistently at 10 per cent or lower since July 29, suggesting fewer people are now getting severely ill.

Professor Anthony Gordon, an intensive care expert at Imperial College London, said vulnerable people – those more likely to end up in hospital – were more likely to have got ill at the start of the epidemic before, or early in, the lockdown.

Data from intensive care units shows that survival rates of critically ill patients have improved drastically.

When the first report from the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC) was published in April, 51.6 per cent of ICU patients had died.

But in the most recent report, which includes all hospitalised patients up to July 30, the death rate has dropped to 38.7 per cent, and in July alone it was just 20 per cent, the Express reported.

Professor Gordon told the Express: ‘As this was a new disease we learnt quickly how to treat it and doctors very quickly adjusted.

‘Clinical trials in this country have developed new evidence to know the best treatments. Use of steroids – dexamethasone – I think that has helped improve outcomes.

‘More recently we’ve seen as the surge has eased that we’re treating fewer patients. That has eased the pressure on healthcare, particularly on intensive care units.’ 

FRANCE IS ‘JUST DAYS FROM BEING ADDED TO UK QUARANTINE LIST’

Fears are growing today that France will be added to the UK’s quarantined travel list within days, leaving thousands of Brits facing weeks in isolation upon their return.

Ministers are believed to be planning new measures for a swathe of countries that also includes Switzerland, Poland and the Netherlands amid a surge in European coronavirus cases.

They could join Spain and its islands on the list of countries where returnees will face 14 days of self-isolation, possibly putting their jobs at risk.

It came as Boris Johnson warned that ministers will ‘not hesitate’ to impose a quarantine system for travellers from other countries to the UK if needed.

Speaking on a visit to a school in Upminster, Essex, he said: ‘I don’t want to advise people about their individual holidays, individual decisions, they should look at the travel advice from the Foreign Office clearly.

France has piled up 10,002 new cases in the last week, the highest number since April and a sharp increase from 7,391 the week before

France has piled up 10,002 new cases in the last week, the highest number since April and a sharp increase from 7,391 the week before

‘But what I will say, and I hope people would expect us to do this, in the context of a global pandemic, we’ve got to keep looking at the data in all the countries to which British people want to travel.

‘Where it is necessary to impose restrictions or to impose a quarantine system, we will not hesitate to do so. 

‘It’s been a huge effort for the entire population of this country to get the disease down to the levels that we are currently seeing, but we do not want reinfection and that’s why we’ve got to keep a very, very close eye on the data in destinations around the world.’

Spain has already been hit with new travel restrictions in a blow to its tourism-reliant economy, while there are fears that France, Germany or Holland could be put back on the UK’s quarantine list after spikes in cases there.    

Summer holidays have been blamed for rising cases in Germany and Italy, while France has tightened its face mask rules in tourist hotspots such as Paris and the Mediterranean resort of Saint Tropez. 

However, Europe has yet to see a major spike in deaths or hospital cases, amid signs that many of those testing positive are young and less vulnerable to the disease. 

Coronavirus UK: 7 new fatalities in preliminary daily death toll

A further seven deaths from the coronavirus have been confirmed in Britain today, with six in English hospitals and one in Northern Ireland.

The preliminary count, which will be updated by the Department of Health later this afternoon, takes the total so far to 46,581.

The number of new confirmed cases will also be confirmed this afternoon. Scotland diagnosed a further 29 people yesterday, along with 12 new cases in Wales. 

Today’s data comes amid concerns the virus is starting to spread out of control again after 1,062 people were diagnosed yesterday – the first time since June 25 that the daily rise was more than 1,000. 

But more promising data shows that the number of people receiving hospital treatment for Covid-19 in England has plummeted by 96 per cent since April.

Survival rates in intensive care units are improving thanks to improved understanding of the disease and experimental treatments, and smaller proportions of people catching the disease are needing life-saving medical help. 

Government focus now is on getting children back to school and a row has broken out between politicians and unions over reopening classrooms across the UK. 

NHS England today confirmed six more people died in its hospitals between July 29 and August 9.

Two of those were in the North East and Yorkshire region, with the other four all dying in the East of England.

And Northern Ireland’s government confirmed another death had been confirmed there over the weekend.

Today marks the 25th day in a row that no more deaths have been confirmed in Scotland. 

While the number of people dying of Covid-19 in Britain is now very low and continuing to fall, concerns have turned to the number of cases being diagnosed each day.

Yesterday, Sunday, the daily count tipped above 1,000 for the first time in around six weeks when 1,062 people received a positive test result.

The country had not seen an increase so large since June 25, when 1,118 cases were reported in a single day.

The numbers come almost exactly a fortnight after Boris Johnson predicted a second wave in two weeks.

On July 28, a senior government source said the Prime Minister was ‘extremely concerned’ by outbreaks ‘bubbling up’, both at home and abroad.

Even as case numbers are increasing, however, the number of people going to hospital with the virus continues to fall and is now at the lowest level of the entire outbreak. 

Hospital admissions are now making up a smaller percentage of total new coronavirus cases, data shows, falling from more than a quarter at the end of April, when widespread testing began, to less than 10 per cent in August

Hospital admissions are now making up a smaller percentage of total new coronavirus cases, data shows, falling from more than a quarter at the end of April, when widespread testing began, to less than 10 per cent in August

In the seven days leading up to August 5, 375 people were hospitalised with Covid-19 in England, compared to 18,638 between March 28 and April 3.

While the number of patients in hospitals would be expected to drop as cases decline and the virus fades out, data suggests fewer people are getting severely ill.

The proportion of coronavirus patients who need hospital care – regardless of the true number – seems to be falling.

Since late April, when testing first started to become available outside of hospitals, the proportion of positive cases being hospitalised has dropped from around a quarter to less than 10 per cent, averaging seven per cent – just one in every 14 – over the past week.

Experts say better treatments, more hospital capacity and some levels of immunity may have helped push down the need for hospital care.

Survival rates have improved, too, with eight in 10 intensive care patients now making it through their illness, up from fewer than half in April.

The total number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in England peaked at 17,172 on April 12 and has now dropped to just 638 on August 7

The total number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in England peaked at 17,172 on April 12 and has now dropped to just 638 on August 7

The number of people on ventilators was highest April 12 at 2,881, and has since dropped to 57 on August 7

The number of people on ventilators was highest April 12 at 2,881, and has since dropped to 57 on August 7

The NHS faces a huge backlog of non-coronavirus patients after emptying its hospital wards to prepare for a surge in people sick with Covid-19. Falling levels of hospitalisations could help the health service get back on its feet if the virus remains under control. 

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in England peaked at 17,172 on April 12, and the number of people on ventilators was highest on the same day, at 2,881.

This has since plummeted by 96 per cent to 638 people in hospital on August 7, and 98 per cent to 57 people on ventilators.

Patients on ventilators are usually the most ill and have to be hooked up to the life support machine to help them breathe by forcing air into their damaged lungs.

The most new admissions to hospitals happened on March 31 when there were 3,099 people taken into hospital with the disease.

On August 5 – the most recent day for which there is data – just 21 people were admitted.

That was the lowest figure so far in the epidemic and represents just three per cent of the 820 new cases that had been diagnosed each day, on average, over the last week.

That percentage – the number of hospital patients compared to the average number of people diagnosed over the past week – shows approximately how many officially tested people become so ill that they need to go to hospital.

Testing for people outside of hospital first became available on April 23, at which time around a quarter of people testing positive were hospital inpatients.

This has now been consistently at 10 per cent or lower since July 29, suggesting fewer people are now getting severely ill.

Professor Anthony Gordon, an intensive care expert at Imperial College London, said vulnerable people – those more likely to end up in hospital – were more likely to have got ill at the start of the epidemic before, or early in, the lockdown.

Data from intensive care units shows that survival rates of critically ill patients have improved drastically.

When the first report from the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC) was published in April, 51.6 per cent of ICU patients had died.

But in the most recent report, which includes all hospitalised patients up to July 30, the death rate has dropped to 38.7 per cent, and in July alone it was just 20 per cent, the Express reported.

Professor Gordon told the Express: ‘As this was a new disease we learnt quickly how to treat it and doctors very quickly adjusted.

‘Clinical trials in this country have developed new evidence to know the best treatments. Use of steroids – dexamethasone – I think that has helped improve outcomes.

‘More recently we’ve seen as the surge has eased that we’re treating fewer patients. That has eased the pressure on healthcare, particularly on intensive care units.’ 

FRANCE IS ‘JUST DAYS FROM BEING ADDED TO UK QUARANTINE LIST’

Fears are growing today that France will be added to the UK’s quarantined travel list within days, leaving thousands of Brits facing weeks in isolation upon their return.

Ministers are believed to be planning new measures for a swathe of countries that also includes Switzerland, Poland and the Netherlands amid a surge in European coronavirus cases.

They could join Spain and its islands on the list of countries where returnees will face 14 days of self-isolation, possibly putting their jobs at risk.

It came as Boris Johnson warned that ministers will ‘not hesitate’ to impose a quarantine system for travellers from other countries to the UK if needed.

Speaking on a visit to a school in Upminster, Essex, he said: ‘I don’t want to advise people about their individual holidays, individual decisions, they should look at the travel advice from the Foreign Office clearly.

France has piled up 10,002 new cases in the last week, the highest number since April and a sharp increase from 7,391 the week before

France has piled up 10,002 new cases in the last week, the highest number since April and a sharp increase from 7,391 the week before

‘But what I will say, and I hope people would expect us to do this, in the context of a global pandemic, we’ve got to keep looking at the data in all the countries to which British people want to travel.

‘Where it is necessary to impose restrictions or to impose a quarantine system, we will not hesitate to do so. 

‘It’s been a huge effort for the entire population of this country to get the disease down to the levels that we are currently seeing, but we do not want reinfection and that’s why we’ve got to keep a very, very close eye on the data in destinations around the world.’

Spain has already been hit with new travel restrictions in a blow to its tourism-reliant economy, while there are fears that France, Germany or Holland could be put back on the UK’s quarantine list after spikes in cases there.    

Summer holidays have been blamed for rising cases in Germany and Italy, while France has tightened its face mask rules in tourist hotspots such as Paris and the Mediterranean resort of Saint Tropez. 

However, Europe has yet to see a major spike in deaths or hospital cases, amid signs that many of those testing positive are young and less vulnerable to the disease. 

Coronavirus UK: 871 more cases and 98 deaths

Britain today recorded another 871 Covid-19 cases as official data shows the number of people getting diagnosed with the life-threatening disease each day has dropped for the first time in a fortnight.

Department of Health statistics reveal 834 new infections are being registered each day — down slightly from the rolling seven-day average of 835 yesterday. But the number of patients testing positive daily is still much higher than the four-month low figure of 546 on July 8. Cases have steadily risen since over the past month, fuelling fears of a second wave. 

Officials today also announced another 98 patients who tested positive for the infection have died — taking the official number of victims to 46,430 since the crisis spiralled out of control in February.  

For comparison, 49 deaths were officially recorded yesterday and 120 were declared last Friday. Around 56 Brits are now succumbing to the life-threatening infection each day, on average. But the number of deaths have yet to spike and hospital admissions have remained stable, despite the rising number of cases.

It comes as official data today revealed coronavirus cases may be on their way down again after weeks of being on the up. Growing fears of a second wave in Britain prompted Boris Johnson to declare he was ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on easing the coronavirus lockdown last week.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which tracks the size of the outbreak by swabbing thousands of people, now believes there are 3,700 people in England getting infected with Covid-19 each day. It is 12 per cent down on the 4,200 made in the government-run agency’s estimate last week.  

But government scientific advisers today warned the coronavirus reproduction rate could now be as high as one right across the UK. SAGE estimates the R value – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is now between 0.8 and 1.0, up from last week’s prediction that it was hovering around 0.8 and 0.9. Experts say the R needs to stay below one or Governments risk losing control of the epidemic and the virus could spiral back out of control.

In other coronavirus developments in Britain today: 

  • Britons were urged to stay away from packed beaches amid overcrowding fears on what could be the UK’s hottest day on record with Saharan air pushing temperatures above 100F (38C) for the second time in a week;
  • Rishi Sunak delivered a stark warning to Britons that the government ‘will not hesitate’ to take action by imposing quarantine bans amid fears France could be the next holiday destination to face coronavirus curbs;
  • Tory MPs have clashed with Manchester mayor Andy Burnham over his claims that it would be ‘impossible’ to lift lockdown restrictions in just one borough ahead of a review today;
  • More than 100,000 people could have died from coronavirus in Britain if the government didn’t tell people to stay at home, according to research.

ONS FIGURES SAY CASES MAY BE DROPPING AGAIN AFTER WEEKS OF BEING ON THE UP

Coronavirus cases may be dropping again after weeks of being on the up, official data today revealed amid growing fears of a second wave in Britain. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which tracks the size of the outbreak by swabbing thousands of people, now believes there are 3,700 people in England getting infected with Covid-19 each day.

It is 12 per cent down on the 4,200 made in the government-run agency’s estimate last week, when they warned there was ‘enough evidence’ to prove cases were spiralling. The spike in cases prompted Boris Johnson to declare he was ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on easing the coronavirus lockdown.

The ONS estimated 28,300 people in England had the coronavirus between July 27 and August 2 – the equivalent of one in 1,900 people. In comparison, last week’s rate was one in 1,500. 

Separate government figures have suggested a spike in cases over the past month and health chiefs yesterday recorded another 950 infections – the highest daily toll since June 26 (1,006). 

But top scientists have argued the figures are not proof of a second wave and are merely down to an increase in testing in areas that have been hit by flare-ups of the disease. 

Department of Health chiefs yesterday announced that another 950 people tested positive for the virus, taking the rolling seven-day average to 835. 

The rate has been on the up for over a fortnight amid growing fears of a resurgence, after dipping to a four-month low of 546 on July 8.

Government statistics show the official size of the UK’s outbreak now stands at 308,134. But the actual size of the outbreak is estimated to be in the millions, based on antibody testing data.

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, this week claimed Covid-19 cases aren’t actually rising — despite government figures showing an upwards trend.

He said the rising infection rates are down to more people being tested, pointing to data showing the number of pillar two tests carried out each day rose by 80 per cent over the course of July to around 80,000.

The deaths data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.

And the figure does not always match updates provided by the home nations. Department of Health officials work off a different time cut-off, meaning daily updates from Scotland and Northern Ireland are out of sync.

The count announced by NHS England every afternoon, which only takes into account deaths in hospitals, does not match up with the DH figures because they work off a different recording system.

For instance, some deaths announced by NHS England bosses will have already been counted by the Department of Health, which records fatalities ‘as soon as they are available’. 

NHS England today declared ten victims in hospitals across the country. Wales recorded seven in all settings. No fatalities were registered in Scotland or Northern Ireland.  

But the fatality curve is no longer flattening as quickly as it was, with the rolling seven-day average number of daily deaths having been in the sixties since July 18. 

It can take infected patients several weeks to die, meaning any spike in deaths won’t be immediately apparent in government figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which tracks the size of the outbreak by swabbing thousands of people, now believes there are 3,700 people in England getting infected with Covid-19 each day. It is 12 per cent down on the 4,200 made in the government-run agency's estimate last week, when they warned there was 'enough evidence' to prove cases were spiralling

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which tracks the size of the outbreak by swabbing thousands of people, now believes there are 3,700 people in England getting infected with Covid-19 each day. It is 12 per cent down on the 4,200 made in the government-run agency’s estimate last week, when they warned there was ‘enough evidence’ to prove cases were spiralling

SAGE estimates the R value - the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects - is now between 0.8 and 1.0, up from last week's prediction that it was hovering around 0.8 and 0.9

 SAGE estimates the R value – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is now between 0.8 and 1.0, up from last week’s prediction that it was hovering around 0.8 and 0.9

The UK's current growth rate — how the number of new cases is changing day-by-day — is between minus five and zero per cent

The UK’s current growth rate — how the number of new cases is changing day-by-day — is between minus five and zero per cent

It comes as the ONS today estimated 28,300 people in England had the coronavirus between July 27 and August 2 – the equivalent of one in 1,900 people. In comparison, last week’s rate was one in 1,500.  

But top scientists have argued the figures are not proof of a second wave and are merely down to an increase in testing in areas that have been hit by flare-ups of the disease. 

The coronavirus reproduction rate could now be as high as one right across the UK after rising slightly in the last week, the Government’s scientific advisers warned today amid fears the virus is making a resurgence.

SAGE also estimates the R value – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is now between 0.8 and 1.0, up from last week’s prediction that it was hovering around 0.8 and 0.9. 

Experts say the R needs to stay below one or Governments risk losing control of the epidemic and the virus could spiral back out of control.

England as a whole has remained the same at 0.8 to 1.0, but the R rose in Scotland (0.6 and 1.0), Wales (0.7 and 1.0), Northern Ireland (0.8 and 1.8), London (0.8 and 1.1), the North East and Yorkshire (0.8 and 1.0), and in the Midlands (0.8 and 1.0). 

The East of England is the only region in the entire UK where scientists can say with certainty that the R is below one.

SAGE said it was now ‘starting to see early indications that’ coronavirus was on the rise, which has fuelled fears that a second wave of the virus is making its way through the country. 

But it warned that when transmission is as low as it currently is in the UK – less than 1,000 people are being diagnosed every day – the R is more volatile. 

This means it can be skewed upwards by local clusters of infections, which has been seen in Aberdeen in Scotland and in swathes of the North West of England.

ARE CASES REALLY ON THE UP IN BRITAIN?  

Coronavirus cases in Britain have been on the up for three weeks – with 835 Britons now getting diagnosed each day, on average. The rolling rate is 53 per cent higher than the 546 on July 8, which was the lowest figure since before lockdown.

And health chiefs yesterday recorded 950 more infections in the highest daily toll since June 26 (1,006).

But the number of Brits being diagnosed with Covid-19 is still much lower than what was being recorded during the darkest days of the outbreak in April.

Around 5,000 positive tests were being confirmed each day during the height of the crisis — but this is likely to be a massive under-estimate due to a lack of testing.

Fewer than 20,000 people were getting swabbed for the virus on a daily basis in April. Now more than 100,000 tests are being processed each day.

It suggests that the virus is making a resurgence in the UK, like other European nations. Spain has been forced to reimpose lockdowns and infection rates have doubled in France over the past fortnight.

But top scientists have warned the rise in cases across Britain is down to a spike in testing – and is not reflective of a genuine second wave.

Professor Carl Heneghan, an epidemiologist at Oxford University, said data shows the number of pillar two tests – ones carried out in the community – rose by 80 per cent over the course of July to around 80,000.

And he argued the number of cases spotted for every 100,000 of the tests is ‘flat-lining’, claiming they are actually dropping for pillar one, which are given to NHS and care workers as well as patients in hospital.

Other estimates, however, do also show a rise in cases.

The ONS, which tracks the size of the outbreak in England by carrying out thousands of swab samples, last week estimated cases had doubled from the end of June to mid-July.

The data, considered the most accurate of its kind, was among a series of figures that prompted Boris Johnson to announce he was ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on easing the coronavirus lockdown.

But it today revealed there is evidence to show infections across the nation have ‘levelled off’. It now estimates 3,700 people are getting infected each day in England – down 12 per cent on the 4,200 prediction the week before.

Other surveillance schemes have seen a similar trend. Experts behind King’s College London’s symptom-tracking app says cases rose 12 per cent from July 23 to July 30, when they said 2,110 people were getting infected each day. But their most recent estimate, released yesterday, says this has dropped again to 1,600.

Testing figures do not show the true number of people infected because many people catch the virus but never test positive for it, either because they don’t realise they are sick, because they couldn’t get a test, or because their result was wrong.

Other measures that reflect if an outbreak is really going up – hospital admissions and deaths – have barely changed in the past month.

Government statistics show fewer than 60 Britons are dying after testing positive for Covid-19 each day. For comparison, more than 1,000 fatalities were being recorded each day during the darkest days of the outbreak in April.

But the speed at which deaths have dropped has slowed.

The rolling seven-day average has dropped 13 per cent since July 18 (68). But it fell three times quicker (42 per cent) between the start of July and the 18th.

Infected patients can take weeks to die from the coronavirus, meaning any up-tick in cases in mid-July are likely to have started trickling through by now.

Hospital admissions — another marker of an outbreak that go up before deaths — have also barely changed in the past week.

Fewer than 150 people needed NHS care for coronavirus on July 29, the most up-to-date figure. Data for days since then are not deemed to be entirely accurate because admissions may still trickle in because of a recording lag.

For comparison, 183 patients were admitted the week before. And more than 3,500 infected Britons were being admitted to hospital each day during the peak of the outbreak.

Britain announces 17 more coronavirus deaths in the preliminary toll

Coronavirus cases in Britain have been on the up for three weeks – with 835 Britons now getting diagnosed each day, on average. The rolling rate is 53 per cent higher than the 546 on July 8, which was the lowest figure since before lockdown.

And health chiefs yesterday recorded 950 more infections in the highest daily toll since June 26 (1,006).

But the number of Brits being diagnosed with Covid-19 is still much lower than what was being recorded during the darkest days of the outbreak in April.

Around 5,000 positive tests were being confirmed each day during the height of the crisis — but this is likely to be a massive under-estimate due to a lack of testing.

Fewer than 20,000 people were getting swabbed for the virus on a daily basis in April. Now more than 100,000 tests are being processed each day.

It suggests that the virus is making a resurgence in the UK, like other European nations. Spain has been forced to reimpose lockdowns and infection rates have doubled in France over the past fortnight.

But top scientists have warned the rise in cases across Britain is down to a spike in testing – and is not reflective of a genuine second wave.

Professor Carl Heneghan, an epidemiologist at Oxford University, said data shows the number of pillar two tests – ones carried out in the community – rose by 80 per cent over the course of July to around 80,000.

And he argued the number of cases spotted for every 100,000 of the tests is ‘flat-lining’, claiming they are actually dropping for pillar one, which are given to NHS and care workers as well as patients in hospital.

Other estimates, however, do also show a rise in cases.

The ONS, which tracks the size of the outbreak in England by carrying out thousands of swab samples, last week estimated cases had doubled from the end of June to mid-July.

The data, considered the most accurate of its kind, was among a series of figures that prompted Boris Johnson to announce he was ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on easing the coronavirus lockdown.

But it today revealed there is evidence to show infections across the nation have ‘levelled off’. It now estimates 3,700 people are getting infected each day in England – down 12 per cent on the 4,200 prediction the week before.

Other surveillance schemes have seen a similar trend. Experts behind King’s College London’s symptom-tracking app says cases rose 12 per cent from July 23 to July 30, when they said 2,110 people were getting infected each day. But their most recent estimate, released yesterday, says this has dropped again to 1,600.

Testing figures do not show the true number of people infected because many people catch the virus but never test positive for it, either because they don’t realise they are sick, because they couldn’t get a test, or because their result was wrong.

Other measures that reflect if an outbreak is really going up – hospital admissions and deaths – have barely changed in the past month.

Government statistics show fewer than 60 Britons are dying after testing positive for Covid-19 each day. For comparison, more than 1,000 fatalities were being recorded each day during the darkest days of the outbreak in April.

But the speed at which deaths have dropped has slowed.

The rolling seven-day average has dropped 13 per cent since July 18 (68). But it fell three times quicker (42 per cent) between the start of July and the 18th.

Infected patients can take weeks to die from the coronavirus, meaning any up-tick in cases in mid-July are likely to have started trickling through by now.

Hospital admissions — another marker of an outbreak that go up before deaths — have also barely changed in the past week.

Fewer than 150 people needed NHS care for coronavirus on July 29, the most up-to-date figure. Data for days since then are not deemed to be entirely accurate because admissions may still trickle in because of a recording lag.

For comparison, 183 patients were admitted the week before. And more than 3,500 infected Britons were being admitted to hospital each day during the peak of the outbreak.

Coronavirus Northern Ireland: R-rate could be as high as 1.8

The coronavirus rate of infection could be as high as 1.8 in Northern Ireland – as the country records 43 more cases within 23 clusters.

The Department of Health said the R-rate rose from between 0.5 and one last week, to between 0.8 and 1.8 this week, in a dramatic escalation of Covid-19 in the region.

R represents the number of individuals who, on average, will be infected by a person with the virus.  

It comes as more than 20 coronavirus clusters have been identified in Northern Ireland.

Of the 23 pinpointed in the region since May 25 when the test and trace programme went live, 11 clusters remain open, according to the Public Health Agency (PHA).

First Minister Arlene Foster at a press confrerence at Dublin Castle for the first summit of the North South Ministerial Council on July 31, 2020. More than 20 coronavirus clusters have been identified in Northern Ireland

It means the planned reopening of pubs and bars that don’t sell food has been pushed back to September 1.  

First Minister Arlene Foster said: ‘Because of the concern around the level of community transmission and the desire to frankly prioritise the reopening of our schools… we have decided that it is prudent to pause the reopening of our public houses.’

Some 168 cases of Covid-19 have been associated with the clusters, with nine areas connected to five or more cases.

Earlier this week, two businesses in Newcastle, Co Down, closed temporarily following outbreaks among their staff.

It means the planned reopening of pubs and bars that don't sell food has been pushed back to September 1. Pictured, a closed pub in Belfast

It means the planned reopening of pubs and bars that don’t sell food has been pushed back to September 1. Pictured, a closed pub in Belfast

The statement from the PHA came on Thursday as the Department of Health’s daily updates showed 43 more positive cases of coronavirus have been detected in the region, bringing the total to 6,049.

No new deaths were recorded on Thursday, leaving the total in the region at 556, according to departmental figures.

The PHA has defined a cluster as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 among individuals associated with a key setting, with illness onset dates within a 14-day period.

Key settings which have seen a cluster include workplaces, retail or hospitality premises, domestic gatherings, and sporting settings, however the PHA said the transmission risk is highest in a household setting.

Key settings which have seen a cluster include workplaces, retail or hospitality premises, domestic gatherings, and sporting settings. Pictured, parishioners wearing face masks in Armagh on June 29

Key settings which have seen a cluster include workplaces, retail or hospitality premises, domestic gatherings, and sporting settings. Pictured, parishioners wearing face masks in Armagh on June 29

Since July, the average number of close contacts linked to cases has more than doubled. 

The rise may be attributed to the gradual easing of lockdown measures, but may also be explained by the relaxing of attitudes to social distancing.

Dr Gerry Waldron, head of health protection at the PHA, said: ‘Clusters are managed through the contact tracing programme, and where we need to advise or inform the public of any increased risk to public health we will do so in a timely manner.

‘In the past seven days, five clusters have been identified. Thirty-five cases have been associated with these clusters, with 239 close contacts.

‘This should act as a timely reminder that we must not become complacent – coronavirus remains in circulation and we have seen an increase in cases in recent weeks. It is therefore essential that we remember the key advice to help keep ourselves and those around us safe.

‘Maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and get tested if you display any symptoms of coronavirus.

Prison officers wearing PPE clothing as they await new committals at HMP Maghaberry in Lisburn, Co Antrim

Prison officers wearing PPE clothing as they await new committals at HMP Maghaberry in Lisburn, Co Antrim

‘Speculation around current clusters of Covid-19 across Northern Ireland is not helpful.

‘We will not be commenting on individual cases of Covid-19 or going into the detail of every incident that emerges, as this could lead to people being identified, create stigma, and focus attention on individuals, families or groups, and therefore deter others with symptoms coming forward to be tested.’ 

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said while community transmission remains low in Northern Ireland, the number of positive tests per day has increased three-fold from early July.

Chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young said: ‘The most recent data for Northern Ireland underlines the need for continued vigilance.

‘There are five key steps each of us can take to keep ourselves and others safe – rigorously maintain social distancing; wash our hands well and often; wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing is difficult; co-operate fully with the Test, Trace and Protect programme, and download the Stop Covid NI app.’