A medical briefing has been given by the government this morning ahead of an expected announcement on ‘three tier lockdown’ measures today.
This is likely to classify regions as being on ‘medium,’ ‘high’ or ‘very high’ alert, with different measures and restrictions in place.
The first of today’s government briefings has just taken place, in which Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, showed a series of slides indicating the current state of the virus in the UK.
It included one showing a sharp peak in the number of new cases by specimen date. It appears far higher than at the height of lockdown in the spring, although Prof Van-Tam stressed that more tests were being carried out now than earlier in the year so comparing the two was like an “apples and pears comparison”.
However, he said: “The key point is that having had a rather flat summer, with low positive case numbers, from early September there has been a marked pick up.”
Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England, said there were now more patients in hospital with coronavirus than there were when the Government ordered the lockdown in March.
“As the infection rate has begun to grow across the country, hospital infections have started to rise,” he told a Number 10 news briefing.
“It is clear that hospital admissions are rising fastest in those areas of the country where infection rates are highest, particularly the North West.
“In the over-65s – particularly the over-85s – we are seeing steep rises in the numbers of people being admitted to hospital so the claim that the elderly can somehow be fenced off from risk is wishful thinking.”
Prof Van-Tam went on to show a ‘heat map’ for different regions of England and the number of new cases by age range.
In the south west it shows low case rises compared to other parts of the UK, but that a more recent spike in cases was starting in the 16 to 29 age range, where cases have risen from the zero to 100 per 100,000 people to closer to the 200 cases per 100,000 people.
A further map was then shown of the weekly case rate per 100,000 people between September 30 and October 6, which for Cornwall indicated a rate of between 25 and 49 cases per 100,000 people. However, in the north of the country many parts were seeing a rate of 200 cases or more per 100,000.
The rate change was also indicated, and in good news for Cornwall it was only of only two on the map to be pale green – representing a rate change of between -1 and -21 per 100,000.
More details about the three-tier lockdown system are expected later.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to make a statement to the House of Commons at around 3.30pm, followed by a press conference, alongside Chancellor Rishi Sunak and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, broadcast to the nation at 6pm.