Calls grow for national lockdown in England as Covid cases hit 96,000 a day

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NHS Covid high alert level sign, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Catherine Wylie, Sam Blewett and Emma Bowden, PA

Pressure to impose a national lockdown in England is intensifying as concerns grow over the effectiveness of the current restrictions.The country's three-tier system is being called into doubt after a study by Imperial College London found that almost 100,000 people are catching Covid-19 every day in England.Experts are suggesting a more national approach is needed to address the soaring infection rate.

As France enters a second lockdown from Friday and Germany imposes a four-week partial lockdown, the second wave of Covid-19 is said to have reached a “critical stage” in England.

It adds to growing pressure on the UK government to be “tougher and quicker” in its coronavirus response.

The West Midlands could move to tough Tier 3 restrictions as early as next week unless infection rates drop significantly, joining areas such as Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City region.

With Nottinghamshire due to enter Tier 3 on Friday, 8.7 million people across the country will be living under the controls by the end of the week.

Covid-19 restrictions in England - PA Graphics

Interim data from round six of the Imperial College London React study estimates that in England there are around 96,000 new infections per day. Infections were found to be doubling approximately every nine days.

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The data also showed early signs that numbers in low-risk areas are following trends observed in the worst-affected regions.

UK communities secretary Robert Jenrick said the government will “try everything in our power” to avoid a “blanket national lockdown”. But home secretary Priti Patel said they would rule nothing out.

Mr Jenrick said coronavirus rates are in a “bad place” all over the country but added that the government is resisting another national lockdown.

He said the government’s “very firm view” is that a short national “circuit-breaker” lockdown would be the wrong approach, saying “you can’t have a stop-start country”.

But asked if she would rule out another national lockdown, Ms Patel said: “Well I think at this stage of course we can rule nothing out because we are a government that is focused on making sure that we stop the spread of this virus and also (that) we protect public health.

“So we have been using, and we are using and we will continue to use, every single means available to us to do exactly that.”

Regional firefighting

Government scientific adviser Dr Mike Tildesley has said more national restrictions are needed, with the current trajectory likely to put nearly everywhere in Tier 2 before Christmas.

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The University of Warwick researcher, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “R is greater than 1 everywhere and if we don’t take urgent action we’re most likely to see that as we’re approaching the festive period we’re probably going to be at least in Tier 2 pretty much everywhere in the country.

“So really we need to move away from these regional firefighting techniques to try to move to something more national.”

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is preparing to reveal how a new five-tier system of restrictions will apply across the country.

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Germany and France gear up for new lockdowns as co...
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Decisions on which levels will apply to each region will be announced on Thursday.

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