Covid infections are rapidly increasing with ‘over one in 80’ now affected, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has today announced.
Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI’s Covid-19 infection monitoring study tested 160,000 volunteers in England between 16 October and 2 November.
The latest findings, published today in the study’s sixth report, show that infections rose sharply across the country to double that reported in early October – with over one in 80 people now infected.
Infection prevalence was 1.3%, with 130 people per 10,000 infected, compared with 60 per 10,000 in the previous report, the DHSC said.
The study also found that prevalence has increased across all age groups and has ‘progressed from specific at-risk groups to a more generalised pattern of transmission’, the DHSC added.
It comes as the DHSC today revealed that the NHS Test and Trace service has failed to keep up with the second spike, reaching just 60% of contacts of those testing positive.
Experimental statistics published today showed that between 29 October and 4 November, 314,817 people were identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive, meaning around 126,000 were not reached.
And the UK has now become the first country in Europe to surpass 50,000 deaths from Covid.
Responding to the news, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘This is a point that should never have been reached. In March, Professor Steve Powis said that if the public adhered to the nationwide lockdown the total toll could be kept below 20,000.
‘Today’s figure is a terrible indictment of poor preparation, poor organisation by the Government, insufficient infection control measures, coupled with late and often confusing messaging for the public.’
Calling for a public inquiry to investigate the Government’s response to the pandemic, he added: ‘As we look towards the hope of a vaccine, it’s vital that lessons are learned from the last nine months to ensure that nothing on this scale ever happens again.’
The DHSC added that ‘the effect of national measures to reduce transmission of the virus would be expected to take some time to reflect in infection numbers’.
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial, said: ‘Our latest round of REACT testing offers robust data on England’s coronavirus situation up until just three days before the country entered its second nation-wide lockdown.
‘We’ve shown that the prevalence of infection has remained high, reinforcing the need for people to act to help bring infections down and control the virus.’
He added: ‘These important data will be a critical baseline from which to determine if the new measures are effective at curbing the growth of the epidemic.’
Meanwhile, Covid outbreaks among GP staff are continuing to close practices, with one Kent practice forced to close its doors after 24 staff members had to isolate.