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Covid-19: Daily reported UK cases rise by a quarter

The number of daily reported Covid-19 cases has risen by a quarter, according to the latest UK government figures.

There have been 6,178 coronavirus cases in the UK in the last 24 hours, up 1,252 since Tuesday, and 37 deaths.

Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England’s medical director, said it was “essential” the public followed the new measures brought in to curb the spread.

Tighter restrictions were announced across the UK on Tuesday, including a 22:00 closing time for pubs in England.

People are being told to work from home if they can, rules on face coverings have been expanded and the number of people allowed at weddings in England has been halved.

Hospitality venues in Scotland will also have to close early, but in Wales restrictions are limited to stopping alcohol sales at 22:00. Scotland and Northern Ireland have also gone further by limiting households from mixing indoors.

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We should be very careful about reading too much into a single day’s rise – the jump of more than 1,000 is rapid and if repeated would mean daily case numbers doubling in less than a week. But figures can fluctuate from day to day.

Nonetheless, the UK has been warned it should be prepared for cases to continue growing. The figure for new cases is well below what was seen at the peak, which was estimated at 100,000 cases a day. We don’t know for sure, since a lack of testing meant the system was only picking up the tip of the iceberg then.

Clearly we are not picking up all the cases now – the evidence from last week’s surveillance report suggested perhaps only half were being identified by the testing programme.

What matters now is whether this scale of rise is repeated in the coming days and weeks – and how that translates into hospitalisations and deaths, both of which are going up too.

The data from Spain and France suggests that sharp rises can slow, and upward trends in admissions to hospital can be reversed.

But, make no mistake, the UK is entering a crucial point in the battle against the virus.

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Earlier Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended the “balanced, targeted and proportionate” new coronavirus measures amid criticism from some scientists.

The measures have exposed a split among scientists. Prof John Edmunds, who advises the government, said they did not go “anywhere near far enough”.

Other scientists said they hoped they showed a shift towards a coherent policy. – bbc.com