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UK coronavirus deaths announced for Thursday


England and Wales have today announced eight more people have died of coronavirus, while no further fatalities have been confirmed in Scotland.

NHS England said seven patients died in its hospitals between May 15 and August 26, with four in the North West. Public Health Wales added one more victim to its tally. Northern Ireland has yet to update its figures.

A full update from the Department of Health is expected later in the afternoon, which will include all care home deaths in England and the number of new infections. 

For comparison, 16 deaths were announced yesterday while just six victims were declared last Thursday. Ten Brits are now succumbing to the life-threatening illness every day, on average. 

Today’s statistics come after Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning chaired a ‘Gold Command’ meeting of the Joint Biosecurity Centre to discuss local lockdowns.

The outcome of the JBC meeting – decisions on existing lockdowns and possible new ones – is expected to be announced tomorrow, with Birmingham still teetering on the edge of stricter rules. 

And weekly data published today showed that Britain’s Test and Trace system still has not approved, with contact tracers now failing to reach more than a quarter of people carrying the coronavirus.

In other coronavirus developments in Britain today: 

  • Matt Hancock insisted it will be up to schools to make sure that supply teachers do not unwittingly spread coronavirus if they teach lessons at different locations;
  • The Health Secretary also defended his plan to pay people on low incomes £13 a day to self-isolate as critics said the payments would not be enough to stop people going to work;
  • Ministers are expected to make a decision tonight on whether to add Switzerland, the Czech Republic or Jamaica to the UK’s quarantine travel list;
  • Britain’s high streets are rebounding at a slower rate than shopping centres, according to figures which show how the reluctance of staff to return to workplaces is harming businesses;
  • Marks and Spencer has been hit with a sandwich shortage after its supplier was forced to close its factory amid a surge in coronavirus cases among workers.

The UK yesterday announced 16 deaths, meaning the official number of victims now stands at 41,465. But this toll only includes deceased Britons who died within 28 days of testing positive.

Separate statistics compiled by the health bodies of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, suggest the true number of victims — both confirmed and suspected — is closer to the 55,000 mark. 

Numbers of people dying of the disease have plummeted in recent weeks, with the seven-day average dropping from 64 on July 24 to 10 yesterday.

This is down to both a change in how the Government records deaths – it now doesn’t include anyone who died more than a month after their positive test – and also to Britain’s outbreak fading out. 

As deaths continue to drop and head towards zero, however, the number of people being diagnosed has slowly increased.

After six weeks with fewer than 1,000 new cases each day, there have now been four-figure numbers announced on 14 days this month.

Experts say this is likely due to improved testing – targeted efforts in badly-hit areas are likely to be picking up more cases that they were missing before – and potentially also a rise in cases as lockdown rules have lifted almost entirely.

A disconnect between rising cases but falling deaths could be because many of the people catching the virus now are younger and less likely to get seriously ill.

It comes as data today revealed the Government's Test and Trace system is getting worse. Call handlers reached a record-low of just 72.6 per cent of infected patients last week

It comes as data today revealed the Government’s Test and Trace system is getting worse. Call handlers reached a record-low of just 72.6 per cent of infected patients last week

Ministers are expected to make a decision tonight on whether to add Switzerland, the Czech Republic or Jamaica to the UK's quarantine travel list

Ministers are expected to make a decision tonight on whether to add Switzerland, the Czech Republic or Jamaica to the UK’s quarantine travel list

SWITZERLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC AND JAMAICA ‘ON BRINK OF BEING ADDED TO QUARANTINE LIST’ 

Ministers are expected to make a decision tonight on whether to add Switzerland, the Czech Republic or Jamaica to the UK’s quarantine travel list.

The Government is holding its weekly review of travel measures today with an announcement likely to be made this evening on any changes.

The UK has said that any country which records more than 20 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period will be subject to a travel ban and the 14 day self-isolation requirement for returning travellers.

Switzerland appears almost certain to be added to the so-called ‘red list’ because its case numbers are currently above the threshold, with a seven-day rate of 21.2. Scotland has already taken Switzerland off of its safe travel list.

Meanwhile, there are growing fears the Czech Republic is at risk of quarantine after its case numbers increased.

The latest statistics showed the seven-day rate in the Czech Republic is now at 19.4 cases per 100,000, up from 16 a week ago and only just below the threshold.

Jamaica also appears to be dangerously close to the threshold with a seven day rate of 19.8 per 100,000.

However, Italy is widely expected to remain on the UK Government’s safe travel list.

The case rate in Italy stands at just 10.8 per 100,000 which suggests the country is very unlikely to face action in the coming weeks.

Decisions on quarantine changes in recent weeks have been made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Twitter on Thursday evenings.

It comes as data today revealed the Government’s Test and Trace system is getting worse. Call handlers reached a record-low of just 72.6 per cent of infected patients last week.

It’s the fifth week in a row the number of Covid-19 cases who have been tracked has fallen, dropping from the best performance of 82.8 per cent in the week ending July 22.

Scientists have repeatedly warned at least 80 per cent of coronavirus patients must be contacted and interviewed in order for the system — which Boris Johnson has called ‘world-beating’ — to work effectively.

Department of Health data released today also showed a third of people who tested positive for the coronavirus and referred to the system were not reached within 24 hours.

It’s crucial for the system to work rapidly, so that close contacts of Covid-19 cases who may unknowingly have the virus are tracked down and told to self isolate before they can spread the infection further. 

In other developments, Matt Hancock today insisted it will be up to schools to make sure supply teachers do not unwittingly spread coronavirus if they teach lessons at different locations.

Concerns have been raised about the prospect of supply teachers working in more than one school and the risk of them carrying the virus from one institution to another.

The situation has drawn comparisons to what happened in care homes at the start of the pandemic when agency workers did shifts at multiple facilities.

The Health Secretary said this morning that a strict adherence to social distancing would minimise the risk of the disease spreading.

He also launched a furious defence of his plan to pay people on low incomes £13 a day to self-isolate as critics said the payments would not be enough to stop people going to work.

From September 1 people who receive Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit who are required to self-isolate, who are unable to work from home and who are in Covid-19 hotspots will benefit from the new payment scheme.

Eligible people who test positive for the virus will receive £130 for their 10-day period of self-isolation while other members of their household, who under current rules must isolate for 14 days, will get £182.

The scheme will initially be trialled in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham — areas which are currently subject to tougher local lockdown measures.

TEST AND TRACE IS GETTING WORSE, FIGURES SHOW 

The Government’s Test and Trace system is getting worse as figures today revealed that call handlers reached a record-low of just 72.6 per cent of infected patients last week.

It’s the fifth week in a row the number of Covid-19 cases who have been tracked has fallen, dropping from the best performance of 82.8 per cent in the week ending July 22.

Scientists have repeatedly warned at least 80 per cent of coronavirus patients must be contacted and interviewed in order for the system — which Boris Johnson has called ‘world-beating’ — to work effectively.

Department of Health data released today also showed a third of people who tested positive for the coronavirus and referred to the system were not reached within 24 hours.

It’s crucial for the system to work rapidly, so that close contacts of Covid-19 cases who may unknowingly have the virus are tracked down and told to self isolate before they can spread the infection further.

It comes as Matt Hancock today defended his plan to pay people on low incomes £13 a day to self-isolate, even though critics said the payments would not be enough to stop people going to work.

The Government hopes the payments will boost compliance with requests from NHS Test and Trace for people to stay at home, with Mr Hancock pointing out the money will be ‘in addition’ to other benefits.

But critics believe the payments are far too small and many people will still feel that they cannot afford to stay at home. Mr Hancock insisted the payments will be enough to persuade people to stay at home.

Data released today revealed Britain’s high streets are rebounding slower than shopping centres, showing how the reluctance of staff to return to workplaces is harming businesses.

Footfall in town and city centre streets has stagnated in recent weeks, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

At the same time out-of town retail parks and urban shopping centres have continued to slowly move back towards their original footfall. 

It came as Boris Johnson was told to do more to get office workers back at their desks. Carolyn Fairbairn warned today that commercial centres risk being permanent ‘ghost towns’.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the director-general of the CBI said getting staff back into offices and workplaces is as important as the return of pupils to school. 

Ministers are also expected to make a decision tonight on whether to add Switzerland, the Czech Republic or Jamaica to the UK’s quarantine travel list.

The Government is holding its weekly review of travel measures today with an announcement likely to be made this evening on any changes.

The UK has said that any country which records more than 20 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period will be subject to a travel ban and the 14 day self-isolation requirement for returning travellers.

Switzerland appears almost certain to be added to the so-called ‘red list’ because its case numbers are currently above the threshold, with a seven-day rate of 21.2. 

Meanwhile, there are growing fears the Czech Republic is at risk of quarantine after its case numbers increased from 16 a week ago to 19.4, according to an analysis by the Press Association. 

Jamaica also appears to be dangerously close to the threshold with a seven day rate of 19.8 per 100,000. However, Italy is widely expected to remain on the UK Government’s safe travel list.

The case rate in Italy stands at just 10.8 per 100,000 which suggests the country is very unlikely to face action in the coming weeks.

Decisions on quarantine changes in recent weeks have been made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Twitter on Thursday evenings.



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