Coronavirus update: Circuit breaker potentially soon, Raab slams Russian lies, death toll surge expected

HERE’S a round-up of today’s latest news on the coronavirus pandemic from around the UK.

People wearing face masks walk past a hand sanitiser station in a near-deserted Piccadilly Circus in London, England, on October 15, 2020. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto)

Professor John Edmunds said it is better to place a circuit-breaker lockdown sooner rather than later.

Prof Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said a “harsh” circuit-breaker akin to a lockdown should reduce the prevalence of the virus.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “You sort of turn the clock back a bit, so if you put a harsh one in, it would turn the clock back maybe by about a month.

“Now if we had done it back in September, going back a month means going back to the epidemiology as it was in August, when it was pretty uncommon, coronavirus was uncommon, there were localised cases and localised outbreaks, and Test and Trace could certainly cope with that level of demand.

“If we put a circuit-breaker in later, in say end of October (or) beginning of November, then we just put the epidemic to say something like the beginning of October… the epidemic wasn’t just localised, it is generalised now across the country, and Test and Trace and other services starting to come under some strain.

“The circuit-breaker does help, but you’ve got to be aware that its effects are quite limited and they’re better if done early rather than late.”

He added that a tier three system was needed to curb the spread, and said: “These new restrictions are coming in place because the epidemic is growing, it’s not just growing in the North West and the North East (of England), it’s growing across the country.

“So we’re going to have to take measures in order to slow that growth and hopefully to reverse that growth.”

Professor John Edmunds from London is made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by the Prince of Wales during an Investiture ceremony, at Buckingham Palace, London.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said any attempt to spread lies about coronavirus and a vaccine is “utterly deplorable”.

The Times reported that a Russian disinformation campaign has been set up in order to spread fear about the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine, with pictures, memes and video clips depicting the British-made inoculation as dangerous.

Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s a shabby piece of disinformation but it is very serious because it is an attempt to disrupt the attempts to find a safe vaccine.

“We know that Russia has a track record of using disinformation as a foreign policy tool … but actually any attempt to spread lies about Covid-19, and the vaccine in particular, when we’re trying to come together as an international community to resolve a global pandemic is utterly deplorable.”


Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, First Secretary of State Dominic Raab arrives in Downing Street on 06 October, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto)

Around 47,000 Covid-19 infections are occurring daily across England, with deaths expected to hit 240 to 690 per day by October 26, according to evidence presented to Government scientists.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) biostatistics unit at Cambridge University published new predictions on October 12 on how fast the epidemic is growing across the country.

They estimate cases are doubling in under seven days, with a “substantial proportion” of those being asymptomatic.

The figures are fed to the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, which provides real-time information to the Government through the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), and to regional Public Health England (PHE) teams.

On October 12, the MRC unit published a report saying: “Our current estimate of the number of infections occurring each day across England is 47,000.

“We predict that the number of deaths each day is likely to be between 240 and 690 on October 26.”

They said the daily number of infections was within the range of 28,900 to 74,900 per day, with the best estimate being 47,000.

They added the estimated growth rate for England is 0.09 per day.

“This means that the number of infections grows by 9% each day and it translates into a doubling in number in under one week,” they said.

“The central estimates for the number of new infections is particularly high in the North West and the North East and Yorkshire (17,600 and 10,700 infections per day, respectively), followed by London and the Midlands (5,450 and 5,720, respectively).

“Note that a substantial proportion of these daily infections will be asymptomatic.”

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