England records five more coronavirus deaths in the preliminary toll

England records five more coronavirus deaths in the preliminary toll as officials announce no new victims in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

  • The early coronavirus fatality count only includes laboratory-confirmed victims in hospitals in England 
  • But does take into account deaths from all settings, such as care homes, for the rest of the home nations
  • A full round-up of the total number of fatalities will be published later by the Department of Health later

England today announced five more Covid-19 deaths in the preliminary toll while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland registered none once again.   

The early count only includes laboratory-confirmed victims in hospitals in England but does take into account deaths from all settings for the rest of the UK. 

A full round-up of the total number of fatalities — which will encompass all virus victims — will be published by the Department of Health later this afternoon.  

By contrast, 16 deaths were declared yesterday across Britain and 18 last Thursday. Just ten infected patients are succumbing to the illness every day, on average.

In other coronavirus developments in Britain today:

  • Birmingham is on the brink of being forced into lockdown after Matt Hancock chaired a Gold Command meeting over spiralling cases in the city;
  • Germany, France, Italy and Spain saw their highest number of coronavirus infections in the biggest sign yet that a second wave is hitting the continent;
  • Fears grew for thousands of Brits’ holiday plans after the WHO warned the Balkans is a ‘hotspot’ for Covid-19, with Croatia poised to be put on UK’s quarantine travel list tomorrow; 
  • The UK Government has paid private firms £6.5billion during the coronavirus crisis – including £500,000 to test-and-trace disaster Baroness Dido Harding’s ex consultancy, it was revealed. 

It comes after Birmingham was earmarked as the next Covid-19 hotspot that could be forced into lockdown today after ministers met to discuss plans to tackle the city’s spiralling outbreak.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to have chaired the ‘Gold Command meeting’ this morning, alongside council bosses and Public Health England representatives. 

Official figures show the city of Birmingham’s infection rate has more than doubled over the past fortnight, with around 25 new cases of coronavirus for every 100,000 people — up from just 11 in the first week of August.

Council leaders are desperate to avoid further damage to the already-crippled local economy through tougher lockdown measures, like policies imposed in the North West and Leicester. 

Ministers are also expected to decide today whether further restrictions are needed to contain the coronavirus in Oldham, Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle. 

The Department of Health last week offered all three councils additional testing facilities and revealed they would closely monitor outbreaks over the course of this week. 

Any region in the UK faces the threat of stricter restrictions, which may include closing non-essential shops as well as pubs and restaurants, if cases creep up.

Oldham — currently the worst-hit place in England with an infection rate of 70.5 each week — is also said to be teetering on the brink off a full-scale local lockdown that could see restaurants, bars, gyms and shops close.  

Official figures show the city of Birmingham’s infection rate has more than doubled over the past fortnight, with around 25 new cases of coronavirus for every 100,000 people — up from just 11 in the first week of August

Birmingham is not currently on Public Health England’s coronavirus watchlist, which last Friday released its list of 29 hot-spots. Officials announced Newark and Sherwood, home to around 120,000 people, was an ‘area of concern’. Around 26.3 coronavirus cases were diagnosed for every 100,000 people living in the district in the week ending August 11

Council leaders are desperate to avoid further damage to the already-crippled local economy by being hit with tougher lockdown measures, like policies imposed in the North West and Leicester. Pictured, an eerily quiet street in Birmingham city centre

There are hopes Wigan will be freed from tougher Covid-19 restrictions as Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says cases have slowed in the borough.

WHAT TOWNS ARE ON THE COVID-19 WATCH-LIST? 

Pendle (89.7)

Oldham (82.3)

Blackburn with Darwen (77.9)

Bradford (56.8)

Leicester (56.3)

Calderdale (42.8)

Burnley (39.5)

Preston (38.1)

Rochdale (37.3)

Manchester (34)

Tameside (33.3)

Salford (33)

Bolton (31.2)

Bury (30.5)

Kirklees (28.7)

Hyndburn (27.2)

Stockport (25)

Trafford (20.3)

Wigan (9.2)

Rossendale (4.2)

Luton (15.4)

Swindon (44.1)

Northampton (38.6)

Newark and Sherwood (26.3)

Oadby and Wigston (22.8)

Sandwell (20.5)

Wakefield (17.4)

Bedford (14.6)

Peterborough (11.4) 

The infection rate is how many cases were diagnosed for every 100,000 people living in the district in the week ending August 11 – the most up-to-date figures from Public Health England. Towns in bold saw their rate increase.

Labour council leader Sean Fielding warned it was a ‘very real threat’. Official data shows the town’s infection rate tipped 100 last week but has since dropped 37 per cent. 

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham claimed ‘there is certainly no case’ to give Oldham, home to 235,000 people, additional measures.

He argued it was ‘clear’ the current policies imposed across the region at the end of July — which ban separate households from meeting each other at home — have helped tackle spiralling cases.

And Mr Burnham has asked ministers to release Wigan from the tougher measures because its infection rate is still low and hasn’t spiked. Three MPs and council leaders have also asked for the town to be freed.

Government statistics shows the infection rate in Wigan — the number of new cases being diagnosed per every 100,000 people each week — has continuously risen since the end of July to 9.4. But it is still below the national average (10.2).      

Birmingham City Council’s leader Ian Ward told the Local Government Chronicle that Mr Hancock would chair the meeting this morning.

He said: ‘We are trying to avoid a local lockdown for obvious reasons – we don’t want to hurt the local economy. But there are no easy answers. 

‘We are talking to government about a plan for dealing with the spike in cases. The difficulty is there is nothing we can easily point as being the cause. 

‘There is no business with a big outbreak – although there are a number of businesses with small outbreaks across the city. The maximum has been six cases in one location.’

Mr Ward revealed the council will ask the government to provide more walk-in and drive-in test centres across the city.

Birmingham is not currently on Public Health England’s coronavirus watchlist, which last Friday released its list of 29 hot-spots.

Officials announced Newark and Sherwood, home to around 120,000 people, was an ‘area of concern’. Around 26.3 coronavirus cases were diagnosed for every 100,000 people living in the district in the week ending August 11.

For comparison, the authority’s weekly infection rate was higher than four areas that have already been hit with tougher restrictions in the North West — Stockport (25), Trafford (20.3), Wigan (9.2) and Rossendale (4.2).

Nine boroughs on the watchlist, including Swindon (44.1) and Northampton (38.6), have yet to be hit by a ban on household gatherings.

No further restrictions were imposed on Oldham last week, despite fears it would be hit with tougher measures. Mr Burnham urged the Government not to ‘overreact’ to the spike in cases and has since called for Wigan to be released from the measures. 

Speaking at an virtual press briefing yesterday, Mr Burnham said: ‘We will be going to the government today to say that the measures are working and we would want to see them remain in place in nine of our ten boroughs with the higher number of cases because obviously we need to bring those numbers down further. 

‘In the case of Wigan however, it is clear, I think, the measures have had a preventative impact and have stopped the increase that we’ve seen in other parts of Greater Manchester. I think we can say that they’ve worked.’

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