A total of 49,156 new infections were confirmed yesterday, the highest since July 17, with 45 deaths. Downing Street aides said a winter rise was expected but added there were still no plans to reintroduce restrictions in a “Plan B”. Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “We always knew the coming months would be challenging. “What we are seeing is case rates, hospitalisations and deaths still broadly in line with the modelling.
“The vaccination programme will continue to be our first line of defence, along with new treatments, testing and public health advice.”
There were 309,000 cases in the week to yesterday, up 16 percent on the previous seven days. Deaths in the week were 869, an increase of 11 percent.
Hospital admissions ticked up by around seven percent, to 5,561. Data for England showed there were around 5,900 Covid-19 patients in hospital yesterday, including 703 in intensive care. The overall figure has risen by around 1,000 since early this month.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics last week showed coronavirus infection levels in England were close to the peak of the second wave and were mostly driven by case rates among schoolchildren.
Epidemiologist and Government adviser Prof Andrew Hayward said there was “huge potential for the NHS to come under a lot of pressure.
“I think it’s concerning that we’ve got very high rates of infection and higher rates of hospitalisation and mortality than many of our European counterparts.”
Prof Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said waning immunity was “probably part of” the reason infections were high.
He added: “We need to get the vaccination rates up and we need to be prepared potentially to think about other measures if things do get out of control.”
The PM’s spokesman said: “What’s important is we strike the right balance between protecting lives and livelihoods.”
The Government has said that measures including mandatory vaccine passports and face coverings may be required but added: “There is absolutely no plan to introduce Plan B currently.”