England’s daily death toll could reach 422

Young man and young woman in urban environment using protective face masks
Coronavirus cases are on the rise throughout England, despite the wearing of face coverings being enforced in many enclosed public spaces. (Posed by models, Getty Images)

England’s coronavirus death toll could reach up to 422 on 5 November, a report has suggested.

Nations throughout Europe are in a dreaded second wave of the infection, prompting French president Emmanuel Macron to announce a second national lockdown until at least the end of November.

The UK government is resisting the extreme measure, despite Imperial College London scientists estimating nearly 100,000 people are catching the coronavirus every day in England alone.

The number of new daily cases is somewhat muddled, however, with a team from the University of Cambridge reporting 55,600 new infections are likely occurring a day in England.

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With hospitalisations and deaths inevitably following a surge in cases, the Cambridge scientists predict between 237 and 422 people will die with the coronavirus on 5 November, just one week away.

On 28 October, 24,701 people tested positive for the infection in the UK, with 310 patients dying within 28 days of a swab.

Doctor in protective gloves & workwear holding Testing Kit for the coronavirus test. The doctor is collecting nasal sample for a young lady with a sampling swab.
Tens of thousands of new infections are being confirmed every day, however, people without symptoms may not know to get tested. (Posed by a model, Getty Images)

The number of new coronavirus cases cannot be determined with absolute certainty.

Some patients do not develop the infection’s tell-tale fever, cough or loss of taste or smell, and therefore do not know to get swabbed.

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This is particularly true among young people and children, who may unwittingly spread the infection, not knowing to isolate.

Delays to test results may also mean people who could have been exposed to the coronavirus continue to mix with others.

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To better understand England’s daily rate of new infections, the Cambridge scientists analysed a range of data sources, including Public Health England and the Office for National Statistics.

Writing in the report COVID-19: Nowcast And Forecast, the team found the North West and North East are likely the worst affected regions, with a predicted 17,600 new infections a day. Yorkshire comes in second, with an estimated 14,800 new cases every 24 hours.

“Note a substantial proportion of these daily infections will be asymptomatic,” wrote the scientists.

The virus’ reproduction number, or R, is said to be above one across the country. The scientists predict this with “100% probability” in all regions apart from London.

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The R number is the number of people a coronavirus patient is expected to pass the virus on to. When R is above one, an outbreak grows.

The scientists predicted R exceeds one in London with 67% probability. The capital city has the highest “attack rate”, however, defined as the proportion of people who have ever been infected, at

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PM admits failings as England’s Covid contact-tracing system hits new low

Boris Johnson and his chief scientific adviser have admitted to failings in England’s £12bn test-and-trace system as contact-tracing fell to a new low and waiting times for test results soared to almost double the target.

a group of people walking down a street next to a car: Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Under pressure to explain new figures showing less than 60% of close contacts being reached, while test turnaround times rose to nearly 48 hours, the prime minister said: “I share people’s frustrations and I understand totally why we do need to see faster turnaround times and we need to improve it.”

The system, designed to contain outbreaks by ensuring anyone exposed to the virus self-isolates, was helping “a bit”, Johnson added. “The thing depends on people self-isolating and breaking the transmission. It is helping a bit already to break the transmission. About 1m contacts have been reached. But there is more that it can do if everybody complies once they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.”

a person riding on the back of a car: Workers at a drive-in Covid testing centre. In the week ending 14 October, 59.6% of close contacts were reached by test and trace.

© Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images
Workers at a drive-in Covid testing centre. In the week ending 14 October, 59.6% of close contacts were reached by test and trace.

Alongside him at a Downing Street press conference, Sir Patrick Vallance said problems with test and trace were in part inevitable as coronavirus cases rose in the second wave – but also a result of the system’s operation. They were “diminishing its effectiveness”, he said.

Another expert said test and trace was “struggling to make any difference to the pandemic”.

In the week ending 14 October, 59.6% of close contacts were reached, down from the previous week’s figure of 62.6%, which was the lowest since the test-and-trace operation was launched at the end of May.

Sage said in May that at least 80% of contacts must be reached for the system, described as “world-beating” by the government, to be effective. Documents published last week show Sage considers its success to be “marginal”.

In fact the true proportion of contacts of Covid patients reached is lower still: the latest report reveals 101,494 people tested positive but only 96,521 were transferred to the contact-tracing system, of whom just over 80% were reached and asked to provide information about their contacts. That means, overall, only 46% of close contacts were reached.

The latest performance statistics, published on Thursday, also showed Boris Johnson is further from delivering on his pledge that the results of all in-person tests will be returned within 24 hours.

The median time taken to receive a test result at regional sites rose to 45 hours, from 28 the previous week. Local test site result times increased to 47 hours from 29, and mobile test units rose to 41 hours from 26.

Vallance told a Downing Street press conference on Thursday: “It’s really important to concentrate on numbers of contacts [and] isolation as quickly as you can and getting things back as quickly as you can, ideally to get the whole process done within 48 hours. And it’s very clear there’s room

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