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Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance stressed the need to reduce coronavirus infections to avoid placing pressure on the NHS and in turn affecting treatment for other conditions such as cancer. Speaking at the daily briefing, he said: “The entirety of England is now purple so there are cases everywhere increasing and some areas have got very high numbers which if R stayed at one, they would stay very high numbers. On the right hand said, it’s the speed in which growth is occurring.
“The brown, the numbers are increasing and the darker brown the greater the increase.
“In some areas, this has slowed down a bit.
“The rate of growth isn’t as high as it was in some areas but overall this is growing and continues to grow.
“The R is above one and therefore we should expect to see greater numbers.”
Sir Partick added: “One of the reasons that care for other conditions like cardiovascular disease and oncology, cancer care, gets affected is not the measures taken to stop Covid, it’s the patients with Covid who start to occupy beds.
“The more patients there are with Covid, the more the pressure on the healthcare system overall, and the more the other conditions get affected because people don’t have the capacity to deal with it.
“So it is very important to keep the numbers of infections down if we are to reduce the number of hospitalisations.”
Sir Patrick said that the R-value was “about half” of its natural number, but he said: “As long as R is above one, the epidemic continues to grow and it will continue to grow at a reasonable rate. It is doubling perhaps every 14 to 18 days unless the R comes below one.”
It comes as Rishi Sunak has announced an emergency multi-billion pound bailout aimed at supporting workers and firms through the second coronavirus wave.
The Job Support Scheme, which replaces the current furlough system from November 1, will be made more generous in an effort to persuade firms to keep staff in work.
There will also be grants of up to £2,100 a month available for firms in Tier 2 areas of England, primarily aimed at helping hospitality and leisure venues which have seen takings plummet due to restrictions on households mixing.
The package, which could cost the Exchequer around £13billion over six months, came as there were further signs of trouble in the £12billion NHS Test and Trace system.
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A total of 101,494 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to October 14, according to the latest Test and Trace figures, the highest weekly figure since the system was launched in late May.
But just 59.6 percent of close contacts of people who tested positive were reached through the Test and Trace system, its worst performance yet.
The rising number of cases also led to Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough being moved into Tier 2 from Saturday, while talks are taking place between the Government and Warrington, West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire about the toughest Tier 3 restrictions.
Mr Sunak’s package of extra support, announced just days after London was moved into Tier 2, provoked fury from northern politicians who have seen their economies suffer due to long-standing coronavirus curbs.
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