These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.
Second Wave ‘Critical Stage’
Imperial’s REACT continuing community COVID-19 swab testing study estimates 96,000 people a day in England are becoming infected. The latest swabs were collected on Sunday and the data are published in a preprint.
Infections are doubling every 9 days with infections increasing across all age groups and areas of the country.
An estimated 128 people per 10,000 now has the virus compared to 60 in 10,000 as of 5 October.
R is estimated to have risen to 1.6.
The authors conclude: “The co-occurrence of high prevalence and rapid growth means that the second wave of the epidemic in England has now reached a critical stage. Whether via regional or national measures, it is now time-critical to control the virus and turn R below 1 if further hospital admissions and deaths from COVID-19 are to be avoided.”
Experts have commented via the Science Media Centre.
Professor Igor Rudan, joint director of the Centre for Global Health and WHO Collaborating Centre, University of Edinburgh, said: “This study should be considered very accurate and reliable scientific evidence that shows that a very large second wave of COVID-19 pandemic is underway. It will inevitably lead to a very large number of infections, severe episodes and deaths in the coming weeks and months. Efforts will be required to reduce the national reproduction number below 1.0 again. The measures that were in place over the past 2 months across most of Europe were clearly insufficient to prevent the new large growth of infected cases and fast spread of the virus.”
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine, UEA, said: “Although we do not know for certain what the prevalence of infection was at the April peak, it is likely that infection rates now are very similar to and maybe even higher than at the peak in April.”
Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said: “We can expect this situation to continue to deteriorate if authorities remain slow to react.”
Nowcast and Forecast
Also published today is the Cambridge MRC Biostatistics Unit’s weekly Nowcast and Forecast.
55,600 daily infections in England with cases “particularly high” in the North West, and the North East and Yorkshire
The number of daily deaths is likely to be between 237 and 422 by 5 November
London, followed by the North West, continues to have the highest attack rate
Lead researcher, Professor Daniela De Angelis, commented: “The estimated trends in R values and growth rates show signs that the epidemic is growing at a slower pace in most regions. However, the rising number of infections and the R values remaining above 1 clearly indicate continued transmission, leading to the prediction of a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 deaths.
“Curtailing this transmission will require sustained social distancing interventions.”
Meanwhile Public Health England’s weekly national flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports showed case rates increased in every age