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London should be placed under the strictest restrictions after 16 December unless a significant change is seen to the data, Public Health England (PHE) officials are advising the government.
In a briefing with ministers on Thursday evening London MPs were told to expect the worst, with health officials keen to put London under tier 3 when the current tiers are revised on 16 December.
It comes as the most recent weekly surveillance survey by PHE revealed that London now has the highest rate of coronavirus infections in England, while cases have plateaued in the rest of the country.
A number of Conservative MPs are expected to lobby ministers to keep the capital in tier 2, given that mortality rates remain relatively low and the London NHS is managing admissions reasonably well. “Public Health England wanted this to happen two weeks ago and are adamant now but a lot of people will want to see harder evidence,” one MP said.
Another MP described the data as “awful” and said they believed a change was inevitable. “We are heading to tier 3 for sure,” the MP said.
The PHE figures came as the UK recorded 20,964 more cases. The rise of 4,386 in 24 hours is the highest daily rise since mid-November. Another 516 deaths were reported in the latest 24-hour period – a slight fall on the 533 deaths confirmed on Wednesday.
The rate of infection has fallen in central and northeastern England, in areas which had been placed in tier 3. The West Midlands saw the steepest fall in cases, with the rate dropping to 158.4 per 100,000, down from 196.8 the previous week.
In Eastern England the rate has risen from 116.2 to 147.2, while in south-east England the rate has increased from 142.2 to 160.8. All other regions of England recorded a week-on-week fall. South-west England had the lowest rate: 77.3, down from 91.2.
However three quarters of the capital’s boroughs (24 of London’s 32 boroughs) saw an increase in coronavirus cases in the week to 4 December, while outer London now has a higher infection rate than some areas in tier 3, according to PHE figures.
The capital had the highest average infection rate in the country, at 191.8 per 100,000 people, for the week of 30 November to 6 December, according PHE figures – up from 158.1 per 100,00 in the previous week.
Reacting to the news London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted a message to Londoners. “We can’t lower our guard now – we’ve worked too hard for too long to let this virus endanger the people we love. With Christmas just around the corner, we must all focus on following the rules,” he said.
Meanwhile in Manchester Sir Richard Leese, city council leader for Greater Manchester Council, told a press conference that coronavirus rates in the city continue to fall and the city was seeing a significant decline in critical care bed occupancy.
Greater Manchester levels of Covid are 160.1 cases as of 4 December , compared to 194.1 on 27 November.
“We’re not saying that hospitals are out of the woods, but certainly the pressure they saw three weeks ago is most definitely not in the system any more,” he said.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, said it was “clear” that the region had a case to move into tier 2. “We will be making that case to governments, over the next couple of days,” he said.
More than 62,000 people in Britain have died as a result of coronavirus, the highest death toll in Europe.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: London should be put under tier 3 Covid rules after infections rocket, PHE warns | World news