Covid hospital admissions in England highest since February – follow live
UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures
The rate at which people are being admitted to English hospitals with Covid-19 has hit its highest since February.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the rate was 8.44 per 100,000 people in the week to 24 October, up from 7.5 a week prior and the highest since 21 February.
Separate figures released by the government showed a further 165 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 140,206. The data revealed that the seven-day total for deaths was up 16.2 per cent compared with the previous week.
And as of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 39,842 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the government said. In brighter news, this meant cases reported between 22 and 28 October were down 9.8 per cent compared with the previous seven days.
Covid deaths up 16% in England as hospital admissions hit highest rate since February
The rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England has risen to its highest level since February, new figures show.
The number of people dying from the virus is also up 16 per cent compared with the previous week, according to government data, although cases are falling, reports Tom Batchelor.
Here’s his round-up of the main Covid news today:
Chris Baynes28 October 2021 21:05
Singapore probes unusual surge in Covid cases
Singapore is looking into an “unusual surge” of 5,324 new infections of Covid-19, the city-state’s health ministry said, its highest such figure since the beginning of the pandemic, as beds in intensive care units fill up.
Ten new deaths on Wednesday carried the toll to 349, after 3,277 infections the previous day, while the ICU utilisation rate is nearing 80 per cent, despite a population that is 84 per cent fully vaccinated, with 14 per cent receiving booster doses.
“The infection numbers are unusually high today, mostly due to many Covid-positive cases detected by the testing laboratories within a few hours in the afternoon,” the health ministry said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Health is looking into this unusual surge in cases within a relatively short window, and closely monitoring the trends for the next few days,” it added in Wednesday’s statement.
Tom Batchelor28 October 2021 19:56
Moscow shuts most workplaces as infections and deaths soar
Moscow city authorities on Thursday ordered most people to stay off work for at least 11 days to stem coronavirus infections, as new daily cases and deaths from Covid-19 in Russia surged to all-time highs.
The government’s coronavirus task force reported 1,159 deaths in 24 hours, the largest daily tally since the pandemic began. The official death toll from the pandemic, by far the highest in Europe, now stands at 235,057. But the state statistics agency, which tallies deaths more broadly, has reported about 418,000 Covid-19 related deaths as of 1 August.
Either way, it puts Russia among the worst-hit nations in the world during the pandemic.
To slow the spread of the virus, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a nonworking period from 30 October to 7 November, when most state organisations and private businesses are to suspend operations.
He encouraged Russia’s worst-hit regions to start sooner, and some ordered most residents off work earlier this week.
Tom Batchelor28 October 2021 19:26
Tom Batchelor28 October 2021 19:06
Deaths up 16 per cent week on week while cases fall
A further 39,842 new Covid infections were reported on Thursday, according to the latest government data, meaning cases reported between 22 and 28 October were down 9.8 per cent compared with the previous seven days.
A further 165 people were reported as having died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid, meaning the seven-day total was up 16.2 per cent from the previous week.
Changes in the number of deaths typically lag those for cases.
Tom Batchelor28 October 2021 18:47
Wales to lift travel restrictions
The Welsh Government has confirmed it will follow England in removing the remaining seven countries from the travel red list, but said it is “concerned” by the speed international travel is opening up given the increase in coronavirus cases in the UK.
Fully-vaccinated travellers from Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela will no longer have to quarantine in a hotel when visiting the UK from 4am on November 1.
Wales’ Health Minister Eluned Morgan MS said the country would also adopt the changes, but warned they “are not without risk”.
“We have consistently urged the UK Government to take a precautionary approach towards reopening international travel but it has decided to push ahead,” Ms Morgan said.
“We remain concerned about this approach and the speed with which international travel is being opened up, at a time when cases of coronavirus are increasing at home and abroad.
“These changes are not without risk,” she added.
Tom Batchelor28 October 2021 18:31
‘Too early to say we have reached a peak,’ says Prof Ferguson
Sage expert Professor Neil Ferguson has said it is “too early to say we have reached a peak” in cases.
“Maybe because this week is half-term week, and so we know lots of people have gone on holiday, testing patterns are different than usual,” he told a press briefing.
“We will have to wait probably at least another couple of weeks if not closer to three to be sure.
“But there are some encouraging signs in terms of the dip in case numbers.
“If it isn’t peaking now then most of the modelling, Sage modelling out there, would suggest it should peak so long as we keep getting boosters into people’s arms and achieve a reasonably high – 90 per cent or so coverage – of boosters.
“Then we should start to see a sustained decline in the coming weeks, but there is a lot of uncertainty in the modelling.”
Tom Batchelor28 October 2021 18:05
Ireland to target non-English speakers for Covid jabs
The Irish government is considering launching a campaign to encourage greater vaccination uptake among non-English speakers.
Figures published by the Central Statistics Office show that eastern European nationals in Ireland have among the lowest rates of vaccination in the country.
The data shows that 44 per cent of people from Eastern Europe working in Ireland have come forward for the vaccine.
On Thursday afternoon, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said that the Government is considering a campaign to encourage vaccination uptake among communities in Ireland who don’t speak English.
Tom Batchelor28 October 2021 17:48
United Airlines restoring flights from London Heathrow to the US as Covid travel restrictions are eased
One of the world’s biggest airlines is to restore some of the links between London Heathrow and the US that were cut during the coronavirus pandemic, writes Simon Calder.
The carrier will offer seven daily flights to and from its hub at Newark, New York. United claims the highest frequency of any US airline from Heathrow to New York, but British Airways flies more often – serving both Newark and JFK.
Read more about this and other Covid-related travel news in our liveblog here:
Tom Batchelor28 October 2021 17:26
Plan B might not be needed if cases continue to decline, says Sage expert
Measures in the government’s plan B for tackling coronavirus may not be needed if data continues to show a decline in cases, a leading scientist has suggested.
Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told a press briefing there is no apparent growth in case numbers.
Plan B measures for England include guidance to work from home, the mandatory use of face masks indoors and vaccine passports for some events.
Prof Ferguson said: “At the moment we don’t actually have any growth in case numbers but we have continued growth in hospitalisations, but at a relatively slow rate.
“At the end of the day, it’s a political decision about what the NHS can cope with, but we’re not in the same position we were, for instance, a year ago with very rapidly increasing hospitalisations.
“So in some sense, there is some time to see whether the apparent drops in case numbers now being seen are sustained, in which case such measures shouldn’t be necessary.”
Tom Batchelor28 October 2021 17:10