Another four people have died of Covid-19 in English hospitals, taking the total to 41,503, but no fatalities have been reported by Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
The Department of Health are yet to disclose the official death tally for the past 24 hours, which may be higher or lower than the preliminary toll which is calculated by adding up the deaths reported by each of the home nations.
Yesterday just one Covid-19 victim was reported which offered hope the coronavirus is petering out. Figures on bank holidays and weekends are usually smaller due to a delay in processing over the weekend.
However, there are growing concerns about the increasing numbers of positive tests, with 1,715 people reported on Sunday in the biggest daily rise in 12 weeks.
The last time Britain’s daily case load was this high was on June 4, when 1,805 people were diagnosed in just 24 hours.
Scotland today revealed a further 160 cases, the highest in three months, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was ‘undoubtedly a concern’.
It comes as parents prepare to send their children back to school tomorrow after a long heated debate between ministers and teachers’ unions over whether it is safe.
In other coronavirus news today;
- A furious holidaymaker on board a 193-passenger TUI flight from Zante to Cardiff has hit out at the airline after they were told they all have to self-isolate following 16 positive coronavirus tests;
- Pupils face being disciplined for coughing at classmates, using another year group’s toilets or even joking about coronavirus;
- A US study has found up to 90 per cent of people who test positive for Covid-19 have barely any traces of the virus and it could be because today’s tests are ‘too sensitive’;
- Sarah Gilbert, the brains behind Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine, has said more diseases with pandemic potential are likely to jump from animals to humans in the near future because of modern lifestyles.
In the last 24 hours, 160 new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Scotland – the highest total since May 16 and an increase on the 123 announced on Sunday.
It brings the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 20,478.
The First Minister Ms Sturgeon said she feels ‘a greater sense of anxiety today’ than at any time ‘probably for the last couple of months’.
The number of fatalities remains at 2,494 with deaths reported in five days. Northern Ireland and Wales also reported zero new deaths for the fourth day in a row.
FACT BOX TITLE
A furious holidaymaker on board a 193-passenger TUI flight from Zante to Cardiff has hit out at the airline after they were told they all have to self-isolate following 16 positive coronavirus tests.
Passengers who were on TUI flight 6215 on Tuesday are being considered as ‘close contacts’ of those who tested positive for COVID-19, forcing them all to quarantine for two weeks.
Seven of the passengers on the flight tested positive at the time of the journey, and a further nine since, taking the total to 16.
However, one passenger has now hit out at TUI and claimed that the ‘inept’ crew did nothing to ensure social distancing was maintained on the flight.
The furious flyer said she saw fellow passengers take off masks and freely mix with friends and families on board.
Stephanie Whitfield, from Cardiff, who was on the flight with her husband, told the BBC: ‘This flight was a debacle. The chap next to me had his mask around his neck. Not only did the airline not pull him up on it, they gave him a free drink when he said he knew a member of the crew.
‘Loads of people were taking their masks off and wandering up and down the aisles to talk to others.
‘As soon as the flight landed, a load of people took their masks off immediately. The flight was full of selfish ‘covidiots’ and an inept crew who couldn’t care less.’
However, another passenger, Danielle Loughman, defended TUI and told MailOnline that cabin crew repeatedly stressed the importance of wearing masks and fellow passengers had done their best to maintain social distancing.
She said: ‘I was on the flight mentioned above near the back of the plane and have family that were at the front of the plane and neither of us had any issues with people not wearing masks.
‘We were told to not queue for the toilet which was adhered too and didn’t see anyone chatting in the aisles (if they had I would have complained).
‘Whilst I cannot comment about everyone wearing their masks (I was near back so couldn’t see everyone) there was definitely not a mad rush to take them off and everyone still had them on as we went through customs as we all had to lower our masks when checking our passports.
‘Yes the flight was full but Tui did all they could to advise people of the safety measures in place.’
She added that Mrs Whitfield’s complaints had surprised her and ‘it was like we were on different flights’.
There are 16 cases of Covid-19 linked to people who took Tui flight 6215 to Cardiff on August 25, according to Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales, including the seven who had it on the flight.
She said there have been about 30 cases in Wales in the last week that have come back from Zante, confirmed in people who were on different flights and staying in different locations.
The majority of new cases are in the central belt, with 69 in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area and 27 in Lanarkshire.
Speaking during the daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said the ‘quite high’ numbers of new cases were ‘partly a result of greater numbers of people being tested’ and she stressed the proportion of people testing positive was still below 1 per cent.
But she added: ‘The number of cases we are seeing right now is a reminder to all of us the virus is still a very real risk, it is a development that concerns me and it is one we are taking very seriously.
‘We mustn’t lose sight of how important it is if we are to keep schools open, build economic recovery and retain a bit more normality in our lives that we do continue to suppress the virus and push as close to elimination of it as we possibly can.’
Ms Sturgeon added not all of the new cases were linked to larger outbreaks, saying the rise of cases in Greater Glasgow and Clyde ‘seems to reflect a number of small clusters, rather than one or two more significant outbreaks’.
She said an incident management team was looking at a cluster of 22 cases in Ayrshire and Arran, many of which she said ‘seem to be linked to indoor gatherings that took place the previous weekend’.
A cluster in Hawick in the Scottish borders had increased to 15 people, she added, with a mobile testing unit in place in the town, and there are now 188 cases linked to the 2 Sisters food processing plant in Coupar Angus.
On Monday, Scotland took more steps out of lockdown, with the opening of gyms and indoor swimming pools and the resumption of youth groups such as Cubs and Brownies and mother and baby groups.
The First Minister said ‘many people’ had been looking forward to gyms and pools reopening, adding that the move would be a ‘major relief for people who work in the leisure centre’.
She added: ‘The reopening is a further welcome step in getting back to normal, it is important for wider health and wellbeing.
‘But it also obviously brings risks, there is no getting away from that, and that is why we have delayed this until now.’
Ms Sturgeon added: ‘The figures we are seeing just now for new cases demonstrate very clearly that this virus is still present across the country, it will spread rapidly if it gets the chance.’
She warned Covid-19 was still ‘immensely dangerous for some people’ and urged people to ‘continue to make sure you are not doing anything that gives the virus the chance to spread’.
Concluding the briefing, Ms Sturgeon issued a plea for people to ‘think very carefully about how you’re living your life at the moment’ as she revealed anxiety about the ‘fragile’ state of coronavirus suppression.
Reflecting on the past seven months, she said: ‘There have been some really dark moments along the way since the start of March and, more recently, there have been moments of greater hope and optimism.
‘I have always tried to be frank with you about my assessments and feelings about the situation that we are in, which is why I feel able to say to you today – and feel that it is important I say to you – that I feel a greater sense of anxiety today than I have done any time probably for the last couple of months.
‘We are in a fragile position; we have substantially lifted the lockdown restrictions but in doing so we’ve allowed this virus opportunities to spread.’
It comes as schools prepare to reopen tomorrow, with some introducing strict new behaviour policies to enforce social distancing requirements.
Parents have been warned that their children could be suspended from school if they cannot abide by some of the rules designed to reduce the risk of infection.
And with many schools deciding it is unsafe to put badly behaved children together in detention or alternative classrooms, they will be sent home.
One of the most punitive behaviour policies has been introduced by Ark Alexandra Academy in Hastings, East Sussex, which makes it clear that even playground jibes about the pandemic are banned.
In a letter home this month, Jerome Scafe, an associate principal, set out the school’s new ‘coronavirus red lines’.
It warned: ‘The following behaviours may result in a fixed-term exclusion: deliberate or malicious coughs/sneezes at any point; humorous, inappropriate comments or statements related to the coronavirus; purposeful physical contact with any other person; repeated failure to follow instructions within an appropriate timeframe resulting in the student needing to be removed from lesson.’
Byron Academy in Acton, West London, has a new behaviour policy which states: ‘Some behaviours (eg coughing deliberately on another person) that were previously ‘simply’ anti-social, are now potentially extremely serious.’
A pupil who ‘wilfully ignores or refuses to follow instructions relating to hygiene routines and social distancing between year group bubbles’ will be moved and if teachers conclude it is putting others at risk ‘then parents should expect that their child may be excluded’.
And John Flamsteed Community School in Derby said: ‘Students will have specific lavatories that they can use at break and lunchtime – this must be adhered to.
‘Should a student decide not to respect these, this will be treated as a very serious disciplinary matter.’