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UK Covid: virus prevalence in England increases from last week – ONS – as it happened

Afternoon summary

Here is a recap of the main Covid-related events from the UK:

That’s all from me for today. But our coronavirus coverage continues on our global live blog. It’s here:

This is from Janet Daby, the Labour MP for Lewisham East. Under the traffic light system, red arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for red list countries, which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, as well as pre-departure testing and and two PCR tests.

Government data up to 8 April shows that of the 38,444,540 jabs given in the UK so far, 31,903,366 were first doses – a rise of 96,242 on the previous day.

Some 6,541,174 were second doses, an increase of 449,269.

In the UK, 60 more people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to 127,040, according to the latest update to the government’s dashboard.

This number is up from the 53 recorded the previous day.

You can read the official release here.

More women than men aged 20-39 admitted to hospital with Covid – study

PA Media reports:

There were more women than men in the 20-39 age group admitted to hospital with Covid-19, according to documents from scientists advising the government.

In a set of papers published by Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Friday, the experts said this increase in the number of women in hospital could be attributed to a lower threshold for admission when testing positive for Covid-19, as well as labour and birth and pregnancy-related complications.

The scientists, who included experts from the universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and Liverpool, also said maternal mortality rates in the UK have increased during the pandemic, although they stressed that Covid-19 may not be the sole reason.

They added that the mortality rates for mothers-to-be for March 2020-February 2021 may be at least 20% higher than in previous recent years (12 per 100,000 maternities compared to 10 per 100,000).

These include indirect deaths, due to women delaying going to the hospital or concealing pregnancy.

This just in from ITV’s political correspondent Daniel Hewitt:

Britain will on Friday achieve herd immunity from Covid-19, according to a forecast from scientists at University College London – which was no sooner made than disputed, writes my colleague Sarah Boseley. You can read the full story here:

This is from Dan Bloom, the Daily Mirror’s online political editor:

That’s it from me – Rhi Storer – I will now hand the live blog back over to Yohannes Lowe.

Nicola Davis

Nicola Davis

The latest ONS data brings few surprises – the percentage of people testing positive has, broadly, levelled off in England in recent weeks, with a similar situation in Northern Ireland and declines in Wales and Scotland. About one in 340 people in the community in England are thought to have had Covid in the most recent week.

The results are similar to those released this week by experts at Imperial College London in the latest round of their React-1 study, which found the rate of new coronavirus infections has levelled off, although they estimate that about one in 500 people had Covid in England from 11 to 30 March.

However both studies highlight that Covid is not evenly spread around the country. According to the ONS data the percentage of people testing positive is higher in regions such as the north-west and Yorkshire and the Humber than the south-west.

What’s more there are some signs that cases may be rising in the north-west and south-east – although the latter has lower levels of Covid to start with. The React data also shows regional differences, with the north-west, north-east and Yorkshire and the Humber showing the highest prevalence of positive tests.

Regional disparities also arose after the first lockdown, leading to local restrictions and later a tiered-system, which were criticised both in terms of their fairness and how well they worked. Some parts of the country such as Leicestershire were placed under enhanced restrictions for many months.

Experts have warned a different approach must be taken this time, amid concerns that Covid could become a disease of the poor. Among recommendations, scientists say a greater effort must be made to engage and support communities where infections remain high, including building trust and offering practical help around issues from vaccination to isolation.

PA Media reports:

The Covid-19 variants that have been worrying scientists do not appear to be rising in popular European destinations, UK advisers have said.

While coronavirus infection rates are still high in countries such as Spain and France, levels of, for example, the South African variant, are staying pretty constant and are not going up, according to scientists advising the Government.

The Kent variant is now so prevalent in many European countries that there is currently no advantage for other variants, and so they are not particularly rising.

The advisers believe that in Europe, as has been the case in the UK, there is now a race between increased viral spread and vaccination.

PA Media reports that Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, has said mistakes made by the Scottish health secretary, Jeane Freeman, in handling the coronavirus pandemic, are “deeply frustrating”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Politically Thinking podcast, Freeman said the Scottish Government had failed in “understanding the social care sector well enough” and “didn’t take the right precautions” in the early part of the pandemic.

In October, a report released by Public Health Scotland found more than 100 patients had been discharged from hospitals into care homes following a positive Covid-19 test.

In response, Sarwar said that despite medical evidence to the contrary, it was “common sense” not to discharge patients from hospitals to care homes.

“I find it deeply, deeply frustrating and frankly it makes me angry.

“I remember saying at the time, when (the Scottish Government) were hiding behind medical advice. It’s common sense you don’t send Covid-positive patients into a care home where you are housing the most vulnerable people to the virus.”

Sarwar described the move as a “catastrophic error”, adding that someone within the Scottish Government must be held accountable, and said questions should now be asked of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“An apology is one part and I think an apology should be forthcoming,” he said.

Freeman, who has served in Holyrood since 2016, is not standing for re-election in May and will therefore be stepping down as health secretary.

Hello, this is Rhi Storer taking over from my colleague Yohannes Lowe for the next hour. Please send your contributions to [email protected], or alternatively you can send me a message on Twitter.

An outbreak of Covid-19 at a Newcastle hotel which led to a spike in local figures is under control, health chiefs have said.

The Novotel at the airport-currently being used to house asylum seekers-recorded 36 cases among staff and residents in the week to 2 April, according to the BBC.

It was the reason the city had England’s second highest week-on-week rise in infection rates. But the most recent testing now shows cases have “satisfactorily reduced”.

Speaking to a meeting of the city council’s health scrutiny committee, Prof Eugene Milne, Newcastle’s public health director, said:

We had two outbreak control team meetings, there has been significant work on the site and we are cooperating with Mears (which is operating the facility for asylum seekers), the Home Office, the police and Public Health England. It looks controlled to me at the moment, the numbers I’m seeing… it looks as if that is satisfactorily reducing now.

Update from previous post: Sage has said the increasingly localised approach to managing the epidemic between nations means UK-level estimates are now less meaningful and may not accurately reflect the current picture.

As of today, the R range for England is 0.8 to 1.0 and the growth rate range for England is -4% to 0% per day, according to the latest government figures. They remain unchanged from last week.

An R value between 0.8 and 1.0 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between eight and 10 other people.

A growth rate of between -4% and 0% means that the number of new infections is broadly flat or shrinking by up to 4% every day.

More than three months after Britain entered another strict lockdown, the gradual process of easing restrictions will reach hairdressers in England next week, and for many – battling with bouffants, man buns, dark roots and chin-fringes – their reopening cannot come soon enough, my colleague Esther Addley writes.

Read the full story on the “stampede” many hairdressers will face for post-lockdown appointments here:

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