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UPDATE 3-Daily English COVID cases double in a week as UK struggles with resurgent virus

Fri, 9th Oct 2020 12:36

* ONS survey shows doubling daily infection rate

* Don't act slower than the epidemic, science adviser warns

* Imperial study finds 45,000 new infections each day
(Adds Friday's COVID cases)

By Alistair Smout and Andy Bruce

LONDON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The average daily number of
COVID-19 cases in England has doubled in a week, a survey showed
on Friday, as scientists warned that action was needed to avert
a calamitous and unnecessary spike in deaths.

New cases of COVID-19 in England were around 17,200 per day
in the latest week to Oct. 1, compared to 8,400 per day in the
previous week, an infection survey by the Office for National
Statistics (ONS) said, while another population survey said
daily infections could be as many as 45,000.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking to tackle a second
wave of COVID-19 with local measures in an effort to avoid
another national lockdown.

But the surveys, which feed into government decision-making,
paint a bleak picture, and government scientists warned the
epidemic was still growing despite a dip in the reproduction
number.

"We are back to choices faced in the March ... Don't act
slower than the speed of the epidemic," Jeremy Farrar, Director
of the Wellcome Trust and member the government's Scientific
Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said in a tweet.

The ONS said an estimated 224,400 people in England had
COVID-19 in the latest week, or 1 in 240 people, a 92% increase
in infections compared to the previous week.

The ONS looks to estimate infection numbers in the community
beyond those who have been tested, giving an estimate of
prevalence that is unaffected by testing capacity.

Another population study, run by Imperial College London and
Ipsos Mori, showed that 1 in 170 people in England had the virus
between Sept. 18 and Oct. 5, with 45,000 new infections each
day.

"Our robust findings paint a concerning picture of the
growing epidemic across England," said Paul Elliott, of
Imperial's School of Public Health.

"While certain areas are worse affected, if left unabated
then infection trends will follow nation-wide and could lead to
high levels of unnecessary death and illness from the disease."

The United Kingdom reported 13,864 confirmed cases of
COVID-19 on Friday, down a fifth from a day earlier.
(Additional reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Stephen
Addison)

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