Cases of coronavirus in care homes have quadrupled in a month and 4.5million vulnerable people may be asked to return home to isolate as Britain’s virus crisis threatens to spiral out of control.
A Department of Health report marked ‘official sensitive’ and circulated on Friday said that the rate of coronavirus recorded through satellite tests – which are used in care homes – had quadrupled since the start of the month.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock took an emergency update on Wednesday saying that outbreaks had been detected in 43 care homes, according to the Sunday Times newspaper.
Meanwhile, another report has revealed that up to 4.5million people deemed to be at risk of serious illness from Covid-19 will be asked to stay at home again or given tailored advice on protecting themselves if cases rise to dangerous levels.
Britain has recorded 3,497 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, marking the highest Saturday rise since May, as SAGE warns that England is now on the brink of ‘losing control’ of a new Covid outbreak
Members of the South Central Ambulance Services move an elderly patient from hospital to a care home near Portsmouth, south England on May 5, 2020
A Care worker visits her client at his home during the coronavirus pandemic on May 3, 2020 in Elstree, England
People identified using a new ‘risk model’ based on factors such as underlying health conditions, age, sex and weight will receive letters containing specific advice, the Sunday Telegraph reports.
A source told the newspaper the plan is initially due to operate in areas with severe levels of infection, but officials are prepared to roll it out nationwide if required.
In a letter sent out Friday, care bosses were urged to ‘take the necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks’, pointing out that in the last three days there had been an increase in notifications of coronavirus cases in care homes.
At the moment it is the workforce that is most affected, but the letter says that ‘clearly’ there is a risk that the virus will spread to residents and in some cases already has.
The letter, which was written by Stuart Miller, director of adult social care delivery at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: ‘You will know already that we are experiencing a rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases, across the UK population.
‘I need to alert you to the first signs this rise is being reflected in care homes too.
‘Over the past three days, Public Health England (PHE) has reported an increase in notifications of Covid-19 cases in care homes.
‘Testing data has also shown an increase in the number of positive results.
‘Currently, the infections are mainly affecting the workforce but clearly there is a risk the virus will spread to care home residents, or to other parts of the care sector.
PHE data suggests that Covid-19 cases are surging among the over-50s, as senior officials last night warned of ‘worrying’ signs for high-risk groups. Last week, infections apparently increased 92 per cent among those in their 50s, 72 per cent among those in their 60s, and 44 per cent among those in their 80s and older
‘Unfortunately, in some care homes with recent outbreaks, this does appear to have occurred, with residents also becoming infected.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: ‘Throughout our coronavirus response we have been doing everything we can to ensure all staff and residents in care homes are protected.
‘We are testing all residents and staff, have provided 200 million items of PPE and ring-fenced £600 million to prevent infections in care homes, with a further £3.7 billion available to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.
‘There is a high demand for tests and our laboratories continue to turn test results around as quickly as possible and we plan to rapidly expand it in the coming weeks as well as bringing in new technology to process tests faster.’
The concern over care homes comes as more than 3,000 coronavirus cases were recorded overall in the UK for the second day in a row – the first time since mid-May that recorded cases have been above that level on consecutive days.
The Government said that as of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 3,497 lab-confirmed cases in the UK, slightly lower than the 3,539 cases recorded on Friday.
More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus were officially recorded yesterday while a Government-led study by Imperial College London showed the number of infections was doubling each week
Tough new Covid-19 lockdown measures were announced for parts of the UK on Friday as cases continued to rise and as the R number – the reproduction number of coronavirus transmission – climbed above one.
According to Government advisers, the last time R was above one was in early March.
The public has been warned against having a ‘party weekend’ ahead of rule changes on Monday, when social gatherings in England will be limited to groups of six people both indoors and outdoors, a new restriction dubbed the ‘rule of six’.
Police have been dispersing gatherings and handing out fixed penalty notices over the weekend, with one teenager facing a £10,000 fine for hosting a house party with dozens of guests in Nottingham.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that if cases rise to dangerous levels, millions of people deemed high-risk will be asked to shield at home or given advice to protect themselves.
Official PHE figures show Birmingham’s case rate was less than 30 per 100,000 by the end of August but this has soared to 78 per 100,000 in less than a fortnight
Regarding the plan, a DHSC spokeswoman said: ‘We keep all aspects of our response to the pandemic under review and in line with the advice of our scientific and medical experts.
‘Shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable has been paused since the start of August in most of the country while average rates of coronavirus remain low.
‘Shielding is still advised in specific areas of the country where prevalence of the virus is higher.’
A Whitehall source told the Telegraph that the shielding measure will first be rolled out in areas experiencing spikes in cases, but that the government is prepared to implement it on a ‘blanket basis’ if necessary.
Britain had recorded 3,497 new cases of coronavirus as of 9am Saturday, marking the highest Saturday rise since May, as SAGE warned that England is now on the brink of ‘losing control’ of the virus.
Nine more deaths were also recorded, bringing the total number of people who died within 28 days of a positive test for coronavirus to 41,623. The total number of confirmed cases stands at 365,174.
LONDON: People enjoying a night out in Leicester Square in London’s West End
But despite the surge in cases, the overall prevalence of the virus is still much lower now than it was back in March – about 3,000 people were estimated to be getting infected every day this week compared to 100,000 a day six months ago.
Similar numbers of cases were seen when the country was still in lockdown in May, but the Government wasn’t doing enough testing to find the hundreds of thousands of other people who were thought to be infected at the time, meaning the figures for then and now aren’t comparable.
It comes as a key SAGE adviser yesterday warned England could lose control of coronavirus amid ‘worrying’ signs of Covid among middle-aged people as infections in the over-50s soared by 92 per cent in a week.
Professor Sir Mark Walport warned the public that England is on the brink of ‘losing control’ of the viral outbreak as he urged people to cut off contact with friends and family.
The Government is imposing panic restrictions across England, with Boris Johnson’s draconian new ‘rule of six’ due to kick into force on Monday amid fears the reproduction ‘R’ rate could be as high as 1.7.
As the reproduction rate rises the number of people one infected person could pass the virus onto increases dramatically – putting the country at risk of a second wave of illness.
Officials are pointing the finger at people aged between 17 and 29 for a spike in coronavirus cases as they flock to pubs, bars and restaurants and sometimes fail to abide by social distancing measures.
The UK’s national statistician, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, has pleaded with people to be ‘unbelievably vigilant about social distancing’ in order to prevent a second Covid wave.
But some Conservative backbenchers are pressuring for England to follow Scotland and Wales in exempting under-12s from the six-person limit, with MP Sir Desmond Swayne calling the ban ‘absolutely grotesque’.
Daily coronavirus cases in Scotland have also hit a four-month high, with total of 221 people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours – the highest daily figure since May 8.
It came after lockdown restrictions in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire were continued for a further week on Monday, having first been introduced on September 1.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: ‘Please heed all the public health advice. More than ever we must remember that what we do as individuals just now affects the wellbeing of everyone. Let’s look after each other.’
‘Covid is on the rise again across the UK and Europe. Keeping it under control requires care and vigilance from all of us. And bluntly, it means restricting as far as possible our interactions with other households.’
Public Health England (PHE) data suggests Covid-19 cases are surging among the over-50s, as senior officials last night warned of ‘worrying’ signs for high-risk groups. Last week, infections rose by 92 per cent among people in their 50s, 72 per cent among those in their 60s, and 44 per cent among those in their 80s and older.
There was a 20 per cent increase in Covid-related hospital admissions last week on the previous week among those aged 60-75, a 72 per cent increase among 75 to 84-year-olds, and a 67 per cent rise in those 85 and over.
Yvonne Doyle, medical director at PHE, said: ‘3,539 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported overnight, compared to 2,919 yesterday. Most of these cases are people tested in the community.
‘Although younger people continue to make up the greatest share of new cases, we’re now starting to see worrying signs of infections occurring in the elderly, who are at far higher risk of getting seriously ill.
‘This is a reminder of the ongoing risk as the virus spreads throughout the UK. People should continue to follow social distancing rules, wash their hands regularly and wear a face covering in enclosed spaces.’
Experts who have been swabbing tens of thousands of people in England found 13 people per 10,000 were infected between August 22 and September 7, compared to four per 10,000 between July 24 and August 11.
Weekly cases in men aged 60 to 69 rose from 221 to 352 in the past week, an increase of 60 per cent, while among women in the same age group there was a 72 per cent jump from 219 to 376.
Officials had said that while the rise in cases was apparent in younger age groups, it was likely to move on to older people, which would be followed by an increase in hospitalisations.
It has also been suggested a ‘rapid acceleration’ in coronavirus cases could be linked to the hugely popular Eat Out to Help Out scheme, an Oxford University researcher has said.
The scheme, which involved the government fronting 50 per cent of the bill up to £10 per head at participating restaurants from Monday to Wednesday, has been hailed as the hospitality industry’s saviour.
However, a new report from Oxford University public policy researcher Toby Phillips suggests the scheme may have contributed to a ‘rapid acceleration’ in reported infections in Britain and ‘encouraged extravagant levels of eating out’.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the alleged spike in coronavirus infections justifies the Government’s ‘arbitrary’ new ‘rule of six’, warning people ‘the pandemic is not over’.
The Imperial College London REACT-1 study found the epidemic is doubling in size every ‘seven to eight days’. By comparison, Covid-19 infections were increasing by twofold every three days at the start of the crisis.