Britain’s coronavirus crisis is continuing to tick upwards, with new daily infections jumping by nearly 14 per cent today.
Department of Health bosses posted 38,520 positive tests, up 13.7 per cent on the 33,869 recorded last Tuesday. Infections have now risen week-on-week every day for a week.
Meanwhile, deaths and hospital admissions are also trending upwards. Both the measures lag weeks behind cases because of how long it can take for infected people to become severely ill.
Another 181 victims were added to the Government’s official death toll today, up nine per cent on the 166 seen last week.
And hospitalisations also increased 11.8 per cent in a week. Some 766 infected patients were admitted to an NHS ward on Friday, the latest date data is available for.
The figures come after Keir Starmer today called for No10’s Covid inquiry to be brought forward in the wake of a scathing report that laid bare a string of failures ministers made in handling the pandemic.
The first major probe into the Covid crisis concluded that thousands of care home residents died needlessly in the pandemic, and that ministers were blinded by ‘groupthink’ among scientific advisers who wanted to manage the spread of the virus, rather than suppress it.
The dossier also claimed that No10’s early decisions on lockdowns and social distancing rank as ‘one of the most important public health failures the UK has ever experienced’.
Health officials are investigating a rise in the number of incorrect Covid lateral flow tests
Thousands of children with the sniffles may wrongly be being told to stay at home over concerns they have Covid, scientists have suggested.
Secondary school children are asked to take two lateral flow tests per week. If they test positive, they must stay at home until they receive a result from a gold-standard PCR swab.
Latest Test and Trace (T&T) statistics reveal 18,930 of the 615,000 rapid swabs taken by pupils in the week ending September 29 came back positive.
Of those, 13 per cent — or 2,053 — were either negative or voided when followed up with a PCR.
The proportion of children being wrongly told they have Covid by the devices has doubled in a month.
It has prompted health chiefs to launch a probe, with the scientific community now discussing whether the rise is actually down to the resurgence of colds.
Experts have suggested the heavy mucus samples from children who test positive may be skewing the accuracy of the swabs.
Gaming tests to get time off school and faulty LFDs have also been suggested as possible factors behind the rise.
It comes as:
- Jeremy Hunt admitted he was part of ‘groupthink’ which wrongly focused too much on flu and failed to adequately plan for a coronavirus pandemic;
- Scientists suggested thousands of children with the sniffles may wrongly be being told to stay at home over concerns they have Covid;
- Indian experts claimed people should wear masks outdoors because gusts of wind blowing in the same direction as a cough increases the transmission of Covid.
Government data shows that of the 94,428,905 Covid jabs given in the UK up to yesterday, 49,216,092 were first doses, a rise of 29,172 on the previous day.
Some 45,212,813 were second doses, an increase of 23,632.
But health chiefs have yet to release any daily figures for third doses, despite the booster drive kicking off last month.
The Government said a further 181 people died today bringing the UK total to 137,944.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 163,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate.
The total death toll comes after politicians slammed the Government for its handling of the pandemic in the early stages of last year after a joint report by the health and science select committees
Speaking on a visit to a lorry driver training centre near Oldham, Sir Keir said: ‘I think the least the PM could do is address the families, apologise, and bring forward the public inquiry just as quickly as possible.’
The opposition leader added: ‘The PM should take responsibility because the responsibility is his, and he should apologise.
‘But I’d like to just start by acknowledging just how difficult a day this will be for the bereaved families learning what they will learn in this report, which is a damning indictment of the Government and the flaws and errors and failures of the Government running down the NHS before the pandemic, being far too slow to respond, with the price being paid by those bereaved families, chaotic track and trace.’
Latest data from Test and Trace shows the proportion of children being told they are positive for Covid when they don’t have the virus by lateral flow devices has doubled in the last month (red line). More than one in ten positive results from lateral flows are incorrect
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admits he was part of ‘groupthink’ that focused on flu
A devastating report today laid bare the catalogue of failures at the top of Government at the start of the Covid crisis.
One key criticism is that ministers were subject to ‘groupthink’ among scientists in the early stages, who wanted to manage the spread of the virus rather than suppress it.
Former Health Secretary and Tory party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has today admitted he was also part of this ‘groupthink’ that failed to plan for the pandemic.
He told Good Morning Britain that the country should have locked down earlier.
He said: ‘The Prime Minister is of course ultimately responsible, but some of the advice that he got was also wrong.’
He added: ‘There was a groupthink that the way you tackle a pandemic should be similar to a flu pandemic, I was part of that groupthink too when I was Health Secretary.
‘In fact, you know, during that period, an American university said we were the second-best prepared country in the world. We know that clearly wasn’t the case.’
He said countries ‘that have direct experience of SARS and MERS were the ones who responded best in the first half of the pandemic’.
Asked whether Mr Johnson refused to shutdown the country in the early stages because he thought it would be ‘unpopular’, Mr Hunt said that ‘every Prime Minister’s personality matters but in this particular case, on those particular decisions, he was following the scientific advice, and the question we have to ask is why across the whole of the system in those early months, everyone was advising the wrong approach?’
Meanwhile, one of the Government’s own ministers today refused to apologise 11 times for the mistakes that had led to thousands of deaths in Britain.
Stephen Barclay, who replaced Michael Gove as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in No10’s reshuffle last month, was grilled about the report and repeatedly given the opportunity to say sorry by Sky News presenter Kay Burley, but he instead dodged the chance. He even admitted he had not yet read the 151-page report.
Boris Johnson has promised a formal inquiry into the Government’s response to the pandemic will start in Spring 2022 but an exact date has yet to be set. When he announced the probe, he insisted key players would be put ‘under the microscope’.
Labour had originally called for the inquiry to begin in June this year, in line with No10’s lifting of virus restrictions. There are currently virtually no Covid curbs on daily life in England.
Meanwhile, Dominic Cummings today slammed his old boss for his handling of the pandemic, branding the Prime Minister a ‘joke’.
Speaking to Sky News outside his home, the Prime Minister’s ex chief adviser labelled No10’s system for dealing with crises a ‘disaster’. He said: ‘The system was bad for many years before Covid.
‘Me and others put into place work to try and improve the system in 2020 after the first wave, unfortunately the Prime Minister – being the joke that he is – has not pushed that work through.’
Mr Cummings, who has been a vocal critic of Mr and Mrs Johnson since leaving Downing Street, added: ‘Now we have a joke Prime Minister and a joke leader of the Labour party, and we obviously need a new political system.’
The report, published today by the health and science committees at the House of Commons, is the first to shine a light on the catalogue of failures made at the top of Government. It castigated the ‘chaotic’ performance of the £37billion test and trace system.
Families of coronavirus victims today called report ‘laughable’, with one campaigner pointing out that it ‘barely mentions the over 150,000 bereaved families’.
She added: ‘Sadly, this is what we expected, as the committee explicitly refused to speak to us or any bereaved families, instead insisting they were only interested in speaking to their colleagues and friends.’
Mr Cummings, an Oxford-educated former aide who resigned from Downing Street after losing an internal power struggle, has repeatedly savaged the Prime Minister and his Government.
He unleashed a blizzard of complaints about his old boss during a one-hour chat with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg in July.
During the interview, Mr Cummings attacked Mr Johnson over his fitness to lead, saying he ‘doesn’t have a plan’ for Government, and accused his wife Carrie of ‘trying to appoint clowns to key positions’, as well as slamming the Covid response.
Minister Stephen Barclay refused to apologise 11 times for the Government’s failures at the start of the pandemic when he was on Sky News today. Former top adviser Dominic Cummings today branded Boris Johnson a ‘joke’
What were the key findings of the first Covid report?
The UK’s first Covid inquiry was published today by MPs from the health and science committees in the House of Commons.
It revealed a catalogue of failures right up to the top of Government, and sparked anger among families who lost loved ones. Pressure is building for an independent judge-led inquiry to begin as soon as possible.
Key findings included:
- Thousands of care home residents needlessly died during the pandemic, with the elderly treated as an ‘afterthought’;
- The performance of the £37billion test and trace system was ‘chaotic’;
- Early decisions on lockdowns and social distancing ranked as ‘one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced’;
- Ministers were blinded by ‘groupthink’ among scientists, who wrongly wanted to manage the spread of the virus rather than suppress it;
- The UK’s response was too ‘narrowly and inflexibly based on a flu model’ that failed to learn lessons from Sars, Mers and Ebola;
- This was a ‘serious early error’ when other countries were taking drastic action;
- The lack of a proper test and trace system early on meant a full lockdown was ‘inevitable’ and should have come sooner;
- Decision-making was dysfunctional with the exchange of important information between public bodies ‘inadequate’;
- Death rates among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and those with learning disabilities were unacceptably high.
The 49-year-old was the director of Vote Leave and is widely seen as the architect of Brexit.
He was also invited to appear in front of MPs in the summer, delivering a number of bombshells including that tens of thousands had died unnecessarily because of the way Covid was handled, and accusing former Health Secretary Matt Hancock of lying to his colleagues.
Today’s report vindicated some of Mr Cummings’s criticisms. Giving evidence to politicians in the summer, Mr Cummings argued ‘false groupthink’ was prevalent in Whitehall.
Mr Cummings’ barb came after Mr Barclay was wheeled out this morning to face the media in the wake of the report into the Government’s Covid response.
He said: ‘We followed, throughout, the scientific advice. We got the vaccine deployed extremely quickly, we protected our NHS from the surge of cases.’
Asked again by Ms Burley if he would say sorry in the wake of the report, Mr Barclay said: ‘Well no, we followed the scientific advice, we protected the NHS, we took the decisions based on the evidence before us.
‘But of course, we’ve always said with something so unprecedented as the pandemic, there will be lessons to learn, we’re keen to learn them.’
Ms Burley said later in the interview: ‘I don’t understand why you don’t want to apologise.’
Mr Barclay responded: ‘Well, there are lessons to learn but the point is that we took decisions based on the science, we protected the NHS, we got the vaccine deployed at pace but we accept where there are lessons to learn we are keen to do so.’
Ms Burley said: ‘But you’re representing the Government this morning, and there were 20,000 unnecessary deaths in the UK, many of them elderly people, and you don’t want to apologise?’
He responded: ‘What I’m saying is we took decisions based on the scientific evidence we were presented with.’
During the interview, Mr Barclay admitted: ‘The report that you’re talking about came out at midnight, I have not had an opportunity to read it yet.’
Also asked for an apology by LBC radio today, Mr Barclay said: ‘Well I recognise it’s devastating and my heart goes out to any family, any of your listeners where they lost a loved one.’
Families who lost loved ones to the virus have slammed the report for saying the vaccine rollout — which has jabbed more than nine in ten adults — had ‘redeemed’ many failures at the start of the crisis.
Hannah Brady, spokeswoman for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, said in a statement: ‘What a surprise: a committee led by the previous health secretary and which exclusively spoke to his friends in Government, found that the deaths of 150,000 people were ‘redeemed’ by the vaccine rollout.’
She added that the report ‘barely mentions’ the tens of thousands of families that lost loved ones to the virus.
Sir Keir made the comments during a visit to a lorry driver training centre near Oldham, Greater Manchester, today. He also called on the Prime Minister to apologise to the country for his mistakes during the pandemic
Sir Keir is pictured above talking to people at the training centre. Labour called for a Covid inquiry to begin by the end of July, or ‘as soon as all restrictions are lifted’. Virtually all Covid measures have been eased in England
Ms Brady said: ‘The report it’s produced is laughable, and more interested in political arguments about whether you can bring laptops to Cobra meetings than it is in the experiences of those who tragically lost parents, partners or children to Covid.
‘This is an attempt to ignore and gaslight bereaved families, who will see it as a slap in the face.’
Ms Brady said the report proved that a judge-led independent inquiry, which has been promised by the Government in spring, ‘must have bereaved families at its heart’.
She added: ‘That is the only way that the serious questions, like why families were told their loved ones were not fit for intensive care without medical assessment, or advised by 111 to keep their loved ones at home even in their dying moments, or why there were even more deaths in care homes in the second wave than the first, will be answered.’
Dr David Nabarro, the special envoy for Covid at the World Health Organization (WHO), said that delayed action at the start of the pandemic led to ‘suffering’.
He told Sky News: ‘What we’re learning is when you get a virus, starting to really spread in a community, the one thing that you must not do is to delay – it doesn’t help anybody.
‘And occasionally people think: ‘Well if we delay, everybody will get infected. So the problem will go away, because they’ll all be immune.’ That also doesn’t work.
Dr David Nabarro (left), the special envoy for Covid at the World Health Organization (WHO), said today that delayed action at the start of the pandemic led to ‘suffering’. Pictured right: Mike Carr and Katie Ffolloitt-Powell of the Patient Transport Services of South Central Ambulance Services help to settle an elderly non-COVID-19 patient into a care home after moving her from hospital, near Portsmouth
‘So I think what we have to remember is: be rapid and be firm as soon as you get cases of the disease.
‘It doesn’t mean you have complete lockdown, it just means you need to be able to test and to isolate and to stop spread.’
He added: ‘If you delay, what we’re learning all over the world, is that people suffer.’
On Test and Trace, he added: ‘What we have learned in Britain, and in many other countries, is you can’t just tell people to isolate and expect them to stay at home without any kind of financial compensation.’
Dr Nabarro also called on other countries to start investigating their response to the pandemic, to ensure that ‘lessons can be learned’. He said he hoped every country would open an inquiry.
Some 8.1million Britons have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began — with thousands more cases likely undiagnosed due to a shortage of tests in the first half of last year.
More than 137,000 Covid deaths within 28 days of being diagnosed with the virus have also been recorded, with the bulk happening during the second wave in January. There have been more than 150,000 death certificates that mention the virus.
The UK has the eighth highest Covid death toll in the world, and the highest in Europe.
The US (714,055 Covid deaths), Brazil (601,213), India (450,963), Mexico (282,227), Russia (213,522), Peru (199,703) and Indonesia (142,716) are the only countries to have recorded more fatalities.
Source: Daily Mail | Health News