Britain today recorded 80 more coronavirus deaths in the lowest Saturday rise post-lockdown, taking the total number of victims to 41,561 – as it emerged a dozen regions in England have been Covid-free for a week.
The preliminary death figure is calculated by adding up coronavirus deaths across the UK in the last 24 hours, but it does not take into account fatalities in care homes in England. It means that the official figure announced later today by the Department of Health has the potential to be significantly higher.
Broken down, the total of 80 includes 67 more deaths in hospitals in England, six in total across Wales, five in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland. Today’s figure is the lowest Saturday jump since March 21, two days before lockdown when just 56 fatalities were recorded.
It comes after 12 regions in England – home to 2.4million people – reported zero infections in the last week in another huge boost for the UK’s fight against the epidemic. For comparison, these areas were recording between 50 and 100 cases a week at the height of the crisis in April.
Public Health England figures show five boroughs in London – formerly the UK’s epicentre – did not see a new infection between June 4 and June, including Enfield, Wandsworth, Haringey, Barking and Dagenham. The capital as a whole reported just 94 confirmed cases of coronavirus last week, down from a peak of 4,824 between April 2 and April 8.
There were also no new cases in York, Dorset, North Lincolnshire, Torbay in Devon, Halton in Cheshire and Rutland in the East Midlands. Two thirds of council areas in England are now seeing an average of one case a day or fewer, according to the PHE data.
In other coronavirus developments today:
SAGE scientists have told ministers that pubs, restaurants and shops can ignore the two-metre rule when they reopen but should ban singing and shouting because it spreads the disease;Boris Johnson has called on Britons to head to the High Street and kick-start the flagging economy when transformed stores reopen on Manic Monday;Brazil has overtaken the UK to claim the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, behind the United States; Covid may trigger the onset of diabetes in healthy people, 17 experts have warned in the in the New England Journal of Medicine;One in five hospital coronavirus patients caught killer bug on a hospital ward, the Government scientists as medics are told to stop ‘congregating’ during their breaks as it spreads the virus;Neuroscientists have warned that lockdown is putting teenagers at risk of future mental health problems because their developing brains need face-to-face social interaction to build psychological resilience.
This map shows the 12 local authorities in England that have reported no new virus cases in the week from June 4 to June 10
Torbay has had no cases for the past four weeks, the lowest level in the country, and Rutland has had no cases for two weeks. With certain areas of the country now seemingly virus free, there will be renewed interest in local easing of lockdown measures.
Paul Hunter, of the University of East Anglia, told The Times: ‘I would expect to see, provided the fall continues, more local authorities with no cases next week.’
He added that although some of the 12 areas may have undetected clusters, he thinks the longer it goes on that places record no cases, the more confident we can be that the virus has been eradicated in certain areas.
The 12 local authorities that reported ZERO new coronavirus infections in the week June 4 to June 10
2. North Lincolnshire
7. West Berkshire
Birmingham reported 32 cases in the most recent seven-day period, down from 620 in the last week of March.
The Office for National Statistics estimates that just 33,000 people in England currently have the coronavirus.
The data, based on testing of almost 20,000 people in the community, shows the number of people with the virus outside of hospitals and care homes is tumbling.
When hospital and care home cases, of which more than a thousand are still being diagnosed every day, are included the total is higher, but the virus is fading among members of the public.
When the same estimates were published on May 28, just a fortnight ago, they suggested 133,000 people were carrying the virus, many without knowing it.
But England’s outbreak is continuing on a ‘clear downward trend’, statisticians say, with around 31,600 new infections each week – around 4,500 per day.
The ONS data says just 0.06 per cent of the population is infected, showing the infection rate is now around one positive case in every 1,790 people in the community.
And this week’s report, which relates to the period between May 25 and June 7, is recent enough to include the effects of the first easing of lockdown measures, when the rules on spending time outside were relaxed on May 13. This does not, according to the ONS data, appear to have led to rise in cases.
Statisticians wrote in their report that a complex investigation of the data ‘confirms there is a clear downward trend’ but warned about interpreting raw figures.
The range of possible current cases is somewhere between 14,000 and 68,000, the statisticians said, while somewhere between 22,700 and 43,5000 new cases were appearing each week.
However, the reproduction rate of the coronavirus could be as high as 1.1 in the South West of England, officials warned yesterday meaning the virus is on the brink of surging out of control in the rural region.
Officials at the Government Office of Science, which is headed by Sir Patrick Vallance, confirmed that the R rate in the South West is now somewhere between 0.8 and 1.1, which is a higher estimate than any other part of the UK. The R rate for Britain as a whole, however, has not changed in the past week and remains between 0.7 and 0.9.
The South West is the only region which could have a value higher than one, the dreaded point at which each infected patient starts to infect more than one other person and an outbreak starts to grow again.
Last week the region’s estimate was 0.8-1.0, showing it has risen in the past seven days.
East of England currently has the lowest estimate, with its 0.7-0.9 making it the only region where the figure is definitely below 1.
Britain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 202 yesterday in the lowest Friday jump in 12 weeks, taking the UK’s total victims to 41,481.
The government will not vary the lifting of coronavirus lockdown by region, despite the R infection rate varying widely in different parts of the UK, the business minister confirmed last month.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Alok Sharma said the government would be sticking with its national approach to the lockdown.
Pubs, restaurants and shops can ignore two-metre rule when they reopen but should ban singing and shouting because it spreads Covid, government scientists say
Pubs, restaurants and shops can ignore the two-metre rule when they reopen but should ban singing and shouting because it spreads coronavirus.
It means businesses could have staff working closer together as long as they can show they’ve taken measures to lower the risk of catching the bug.
Government scientists have told ministers that businesses could bring in new rules, such as regular breaks and getting workers to sit side by side, to make it safer for people to be within one metre of each other.
Papers drawn up by the government’s scientific advisors outlined possible options to kickstart the economy, including staggering working hours, working in smaller groups, video conferencing and increased cleaning.
UK pub giant Greene King has announced a new ‘safe socialising’ layout to its 1,700 pubs as preparations ratchet up to serve customers from July 4
This picture shows a Wetherpoon pub in south London when it was still open. The graphic shows the rules that could be in place in many pubs across the country when they reopen
The graphic shows what rules could be in place in pubs across the country when they reopen
Other ideas also included the use of antimicrobial surfaces, replacing door handles with sensors and click and collect instead of waiting staff.
It came as the full extent of the blow that the lockdown has dealt to Britain’s economy was laid bare yesterday.
Pubs could be banned from playing loud music to prevent customers from having to shout or talk loudly to be able to hear each other, The Sun reported.
To make it easier for pubs with gardens to trade in poor weather, ministers plan to double the time they are allowed to erect marquees from 28 to 56 days.
In a further sign of the Government’s focus on the outdoors, ministers are set to shake up regulations for al fresco dining.
Cafes and restaurants wanting to put out pavement tables and chairs currently need an ‘outdoor seating licence’ from their local authority, which can take weeks to approve. Ministers want to slash approval times and are considering axing the fee, which can be as much as £500 a year.
Plans are also being drawn up to allow small shops, where social distancing is difficult, to operate market-style stalls on the pavement outside.
Businesses and offices would have to prove that they have made spaces safe for customers and workers before being allowed to reopen.
The moves reflect Government efforts to fast-track the reopening of outdoor hospitality within weeks after Boris Johnson was warned that 3.5million jobs could be lost this summer if the sector remains locked down.
The PM has come under intense pressure from MPs and business leaders to urgently relax the two-metre rule – or drop it entirely.
Office for National Statistics figures showed that Britain’s national output plummeted by a record 20.4 per cent in April as millions of people were told to stay at home.
At the same time, it emerged that the number of average new infections per day has fallen from 5,600 to 4,500 since the end of April.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack yesterday became the first Cabinet minister to publicly call for the distance to be reduced to one metre ‘as soon as possible’, saying the move was vital to ‘open up the economy’.
And Tory MP Damian Green, who was Theresa May’s de facto deputy, said: ‘The latest infection rates are encouraging, and the economic figures are frightening, so I think it’s time to set a date for a move to one metre.’