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Thursday, 30 July 2020

Matt Hancock denies talking up COVID panic by claiming a 'second wave is rolling across Europe' as he defends increase in self-isolation time to TEN days for people testing positive or showing symptoms

  • Matt Hancock admits more holiday destinations could face quarantine rules with more UK mini-lockdowns
  • But Health Secretary denies he's being hysterical after making major mistakes at start of lockdown 
  • People who test positive for coronavirus to be told they need to self-isolate for 10 days - up from seven days 
  • Boris Johnson said to be 'extremely concerned' about possibility of second spike and said: 'We must act fast'
  • Fresh restrictions put in place in Oldham and localised outbreaks in Stone pub and Wrexham factory
  • Leicester's lockdown decision due to be reviewed today after being brought forward 48 hours 
Matt Hancock today denied stoking up Covid-19 panic and hysteria after he warned of a second Covid-19 wave 'starting to roll across Europe' towards Britain and declared there was a 'real danger' of the UK being struck by a spike in cases.
The Health Secretary has confirmed the Government is also 'looking at' plans to tell people who test positive for coronavirus to stay at home for ten days — up from the current seven-day self-isolation period.
It came hours after it emerged that Boris Johnson — who fears a second wave could strike Britain within a fortnight — told his SAGE advisers and cabinet ministers that he 'needs to act fast' and is expected to ramp up quarantine measures at home and abroad within days.
Today BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson repeatedly asked Mr Hancock if he was being hysterical about rising cases in Europe and the UK because infection rates are nowhere near the lockdown peak and are likely to be a symptom of society returning to a new normal. Mr Robinson also asked if he was overreacting because of a fear of repeating mistakes Number 10 made at the start of the outbreak, such as not quarantining travellers from abroad. 
The Health Secretary said: 'No, it's not [risking hysteria]. I'm the Health Secretary in the middle of the pandemic. We are absolutely determined to protect this country and it saddens me we are seeing these rises elsewhere but I will be vigilant and we will move fast if we need to because that is what the virus requires and the virus moves fast and so must we.'
Labour MP Chris Bryant today called for ministers to calm down, saying 'we need a stiletto not a sledgehammer' to tackle clusters of coronavirus and accusing the government of using over-the-top language because 'there isn't a second wave rolling out across Europe'.
Britain announced another 763 new coronavirus cases yesterday, up 14 per cent in a week — but way below the 5,000 new cases per day that were being recorded at the high of the outbreak.  
Top scientists yesterday urged ministers not to panic about a spike in cases, saying the upward trajectory 'was to be expected' because lockdown measures were eased earlier this month. Critics argued officials knew the virus had not been eliminated and said Britain needed to 'learn to live with it' to keep the economy afloat. 
Business leaders reacted warily to the prospect of tighter restrictions being introduced over the rise in cases, with firms saying it is 'vital' economies crippled by coronavirus-controlling policies begin the process of recovery this summer ahead of an expected resurgence later this year.
Matt Hancock's second wave warning came as: 
  • Boris Johnson told advisers Britain 'needs to act fast' to avoid second wave — with more holiday destinations set to be added to UK quarantine list tomorrow; 
  • Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty want tougher border controls immediately after figures show 1,300 people with Covid-19 entered the UK at the start of the pandemic; 
  • Leicester's lockdown will be reviewed today — 48 hours earlier than expected as official statistics show the city's coronavirus infection rate has halved in a fortnight;
  • Up to 21,000 people have died because of unintended consequences of lockdown – many due to a lack of access to healthcare, according to a shocking study.
Patients who are confirmed to have Covid could be told to stay at home for 14 days under a change to the rules. Pictured: People queue up at a walk-in Covid-19 testing centre at Crown Street car park in Stone, Staffordshire after nearby Crown and Anchor pub saw outbreak of the disease
Patients who are confirmed to have Covid could be told to stay at home for 14 days under a change to the rules. Pictured: People queue up at a walk-in Covid-19 testing centre at Crown Street car park in Stone, Staffordshire after nearby Crown and Anchor pub saw outbreak of the disease
Covid-19 cases in Britain have risen again with the average number of infections jumping by 14 per cent in a week as scientists today urged ministers not to panic and said the UK needs to 'learn to live' with the disease.
Department of Health chiefs announced another 763 people tested positive for the virus, taking the rolling seven-day average to 726. In comparison, the rate was 697 yesterday, 638 last Wednesday and has been on the up for a fortnight amid fears of a resurgence.
Mr Hancock also hinted that more European countries could be added to the UK's quarantine list to stop Covid-19 getting a stranglehold in Britain again.
He told Sky News: 'I am worried about a second wave. You can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe. We have to do everything we can to prevent it reaching these shores. It's not just Spain, there are other countries too where the number of cases is rising, and we are absolutely determined to do all we can to keep this country safe.' 
He also said that increasing the isolation period for coronavirus symptoms from seven to 10 days in line with World Health Organisation guidance 'something that we're looking at'. The quarantine period for people returning to the UK from foreign countries such as Spain would be pared back to 10 days with testing - from 14 days under the same plans.
He told the BBC later: 'There is a real danger of an increase in cases in the UK but we will move fast if needed'. 
The policy change came after talks between Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, Boris Johnson and senior cabinet ministers at No 10 on Monday. 
Mr Johnson is said to have told them: 'We need to act fast' with a ramping up of quarantine rules expected within 24 hours. 
The rolling average of daily cases in the UK has been rising since earlier this month, while there have been fresh restrictions in Oldham, Greater Manchester, and localised outbreaks in Stone, Staffordshire, and Wrexham, north Wales. 
Leicester, the first place in the UK to have a mini-lockdown imposed, will have its shutdown reviewed today - two days earlier than expected. 
His warning came after Boris Johnson admitted he was 'extremely concerned' about the possibility of a second spike and claims that the UK could be a fortnight behind Europe, where cases are rising again. 
Isolation rules have previously caused confusion as those confirmed to have the virus via a test have been told to isolate for seven days, whereas their 'close contacts' faced 14 days. The disparity was due to the time taken to develop symptoms of the virus.
The Government has at times been accused of 'mixed messaging' over the rules.
Patients who are confirmed to have Covid or who have a cough, fever or loss of sense of smell or taste are currently told to stay at home for seven days.
The increase brings the self-isolation period closer to the 14 days for those who are a 'close contact' of a confirmed case or for people arriving back from a country under quarantine rules.
The Government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned No10 on Monday that Britain could be just two or three weeks behind Spain's second wave trajectory, according to The Times. 
And adopting a 10-day self-isolation period would be following World Health Organisation guidelines and bringing Britain into line with many countries around the world.
Fears of a resurgence of infections come as scientists found that the coronavirus R rate is above the dreaded level of one in the South West and South East of England.
Government scientists say the UK's reproduction number — the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects — is still between 0.7 and 0.9.
But a team from Cambridge University estimate it could be above one in two regions, and on the brink of passing the level in every part of the country except the Midlands.
It is vital this number stays below one, otherwise the coronavirus outbreak could start to rapidly spiral again as people infect others around them at a faster rate.
Academics analyse figures on deaths and cases, as well as data on how many people have antibodies and social interactions, to make their predictions that feed into SAGE.
According to their model, the R rate is the highest in the South West (1.04) — home to the stay-cation hotspots of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. It is also estimated to be above one in the South East (1.02).
Three other regions — the North West, East and London — have seen a rise in the reproduction rate, which experts say is not an accurate way to measure an outbreak when cases are low.
Scientists blamed the the lifting of lockdown measures, the Daily Telegraph reports. Infectious disease academics warned a spike would be inevitable.
Despite the warnings, Boris Johnson was urged not to panic over fears of a summer surge. Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said ministers should continue efforts to get the economy moving by urging more workers to return to the office. He said: 'The message from the Government is still really fearful, it needs to be much more nuanced.
'They must say, 'Look, this is a disease that by-and-large affects those with co-morbidities. Protect the vulnerable but the rest of you should be getting back to work'.' Sir Iain added: 'We seem to have lost the ability to balance risk.'
Meanwhile, health leaders said there were 'very high' levels of concern about a fresh spike. Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus that non-Covid productivity in NHS trusts was currently at about 60 per cent.
Boris Johnson, pictured on a visit to Nottingham, expressed fears over a second Covid-19 onslaught within weeks
Boris Johnson, pictured on a visit to Nottingham, expressed fears over a second Covid-19 onslaught within weeks
Belgium and Luxembourg could be removed from the safe travel list as early as tomorrow and Croatia could also be at risk. Luxembourg has the highest incidence of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Europe
Belgium and Luxembourg could be removed from the safe travel list as early as tomorrow and Croatia could also be at risk. Luxembourg has the highest incidence of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Europe
He called for an 'Amazon-style' way for health and care workers to order personal protective equipment where it arrives the next day. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the council of the British Medical Association, said another spike should not be seen as an 'inevitability' and it was time to be 'more robust' about mitigating the threat.
He also called for more concise public messaging over measures people can take to stop the spread of the virus.
'If I look even at something as simple as our messages on social distancing we're told that social distancing is still two metres, or one metre plus,' he said.
'Do you think any member of the public understands what one metre plus means? What does the plus mean? Many don't really understand this because it's not clear and they're not social distancing.'
 

Who’s afraid of a second wave? That’s what Boris fears. But as ROSS CLARK points out, the figures just don’t add up – and besides, from treatment to vulnerability, so much has changed since March

For too many months city centres across Britain have resembled ghost towns. 
So the slow awakening in recent weeks, as shops, hair salons, pubs, cafes and restaurants began to reopen, has been a huge morale boost.
The economy might be on life support but there was hope.
Buoyed by this and desperate for a break, tens of thousands of us began flying off to the sun. Family holidays were no longer a lockdown fantasy but a real possibility.
And then suddenly this week the mood changed again.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the UK faces a threat of ‘a second wave in other parts of Europe’ and in the UK within a fortnight after a 28 per cent increase in Covid cases since the start of the month
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the UK faces a threat of ‘a second wave in other parts of Europe’ and in the UK within a fortnight after a 28 per cent increase in Covid cases since the start of the month
On Saturday, holidaymakers returning from Spain were ordered into a 14-day quarantine after a spike in coronavirus cases in the country. And we were warned that similar measures may be applied to other popular destinations.
The Prime Minister went further, warning that we face a threat of ‘a second wave in other parts of Europe’ and in the UK within a fortnight after a 28 per cent increase in Covid cases since the start of the month.
That term — ‘second wave’ — will have struck terror into the hearts of many, taking them back to early spring when the daily death toll was in the high hundreds, rising to more than 1,000 deaths a day at the peak in late April.
But is Boris Johnson really justified in using such an emotive term?
It is true that over the past four weeks Spain has seen an increase in numbers of confirmed Covid cases, as you would expect with the easing of lockdown —almost 14,000 new cases to July 26. 
Yet it hasn’t suffered even a slight upwards nudge in the number of deaths — as would be likely if there were a genuine second wave.
Just six people have died from Covid-19 in Spain in the past week — compared with over 900 a day at the height of the epidemic in April.
Moreover, there is a problem in using the number of recorded cases as a sign of a second wave, given that the more we test, the greater the number of cases recorded. And the rise is largely restricted to North-East Spain, especially Catalonia.
So is it possible Spain’s ‘second wave’ could be little more than a statistical illusion?
Since May 10, the country’s daily figures for new cases of Covid-19 have included those diagnosed through antibody tests, which tell you whether you have been exposed to the disease in the past. 
In other words, someone who shows up as a ‘new’ case in Spain today could actually have contracted the infection months ago.
In Britain, by contrast, daily figures for new Covid-19 infections include only people who currently have the disease.
This is just one reason among several that leaves some scientists less than impressed by the Prime Minister’s inflammatory use of ‘second wave’.
Boris Johnson pictured on a visit to Nottingham on Tuesday where he expressed fears over a second Covid-19 onslaught
Boris Johnson pictured on a visit to Nottingham on Tuesday where he expressed fears over a second Covid-19 onslaught
According to Linda Bauld, a professor in public health at Edinburgh University, ‘what we are seeing now [in parts of Europe] is essentially localised spikes’, while Paul Hunter, a professor in infectious diseases at the University of East Anglia, says it would take two weeks of a rising number of cases before we need to start panicking.
But even if we do suffer a resurgence of Covid-19, now or in the autumn or winter, there is growing evidence it won’t be as bad as the first wave for the following reasons:
Test and Trace: Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s ‘world-beating’ track and trace phone app might have disappeared without trace after its trial on the Isle of Wight, but we do now have a manual test and trace system in operation.
In spite of teething troubles which left some of the 25,000 staff running the system complaining of having nothing to do, it is working.
In the week to July 15, for example, 355,597 tests were carried out in England and 3,953 people tested positive.
Of these, 3,098 were contacted and 13,034 of their close contacts told to self-isolate for 14 days — although no one knows how many of them did.
It might be far from perfect, but it is better than at the height of the epidemic when people with mild symptoms were told not to bother the NHS — and consequently had no idea whether they had the virus or not.
Social Distancing: It is fast becoming a way of life for millions of Britons and will stop the virus spreading so quickly. Mask wearing, handwashing and the liberal use of sanitiser are also factors.
Far fewer people are travelling cheek by jowl on public transport, too. Compared with early March, rail travel has fallen by 80 per cent, Tube journeys by 76 per cent, London bus journeys by 55 per cent and bus journeys outside London by 69 per cent.
Fewer deaths: Fewer of us are as susceptible to the coronavirus now. 
According to Public Health England’s latest estimate, 6.5 per cent of England’s population (almost 3.7 million) have antibodies to the Covid-19 virus, indicating they are likely to be immune to further infection. 
Many more of us could have some degree of resistance to infection. 
Growing evidence suggests exposure to other coronaviruses, some of which cause the common cold, may offer some degree of protection, reducing symptoms if not protecting us altogether.
Moreover, at the peak of the epidemic in April, many people were dying in care home outbreaks caused by NHS patients being discharged to the homes without being tested.
It was one of the Government’s greatest acknowledged failings and the same mistake is unlikely to be made again. 
We are also better informed about those at greatest risk — people from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, diabetics, the obese and frontline workers. Steps will be taken to protect them faster.
Sadly, many of those most vulnerable to the virus — the very elderly, and those with serious underlying heart and lung ailments — have already succumbed to Covid-19.
Better treatment: In the initial stages of the pandemic, there was a rush to boost the supply of ventilators to the NHS in the belief that this was the only effective treatment for people with the most serious symptoms.
Since then, doctors have learned that administering oxygen via a mask — the treatment Boris Johnson received in ICU at St Thomas’ Hospital — is often more effective.
In the initial stages of the pandemic, there was a rush to boost the supply of ventilators to the NHS in the belief that this was the only effective treatment for people with the most serious symptoms
In the initial stages of the pandemic, there was a rush to boost the supply of ventilators to the NHS in the belief that this was the only effective treatment for people with the most serious symptoms
Proning — lying patients on their stomachs to assist oxygenation of the blood — has also proved a simple but effective technique to help seriously ill patients. 
And in June, a team from Oxford University found that a cheap, readily available anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone, can reduce death rates among those on ventilators by a third, and among those on oxygen by 20 per cent. 
(It doesn’t help people with mild symptoms.)
Increased data: The Government now has access to data which should allow it to identify places where the disease is accelerating and to impose localised restrictions to stop it spreading — just as happened in Leicester earlier this month and currently in Oldham. 
The most up to date figures show the number of new cases is rocketing upwards in Spain. It announced 6,361 new cases over the weekend, up from 4,581 the previous weekend. France announced 2,551 new coronavirus cases on Monday
The most up to date figures show the number of new cases is rocketing upwards in Spain. It announced 6,361 new cases over the weekend, up from 4,581 the previous weekend. France announced 2,551 new coronavirus cases on Monday 
Moreover, we now have quarantine in place for travellers arriving from other countries — something which didn’t exist in January and February.
Warm weather: Many viruses degrade in warm weather, which is why diseases such as flu tend to be seasonal. Covid-19 seems no different.
In March virologists at the University of Maryland in the U.S. mapped outbreaks of the disease and found they were concentrated where average temperatures were between 5c (41f) and 11c (52f) and average humidity between 47 and 79 per cent — which put Britain in the firing line in early spring.
All in all, while we cannot for a moment relax our guard when it comes to this novel coronavirus, there are reasons to be, if not cheerful, then at the very least, hopeful.
 
Britain's coronavirus cases rise 14% in a week as experts urge ministers not to panic and say the UK needs to 'learn to live' with the disease - while officials announce 83 more Covid-19 deaths 
Covid-19 cases in Britain have risen again with the average number of infections jumping by 14 per cent in a week as scientists urged ministers not to panic and said the UK needs to 'learn to live' with the disease.  
Department of Health chiefs announced another 763 people tested positive for the virus, taking the rolling seven-day average to 726. In comparison, the rate was 697 yesterday, 638 last Wednesday and has been on the up for a fortnight amid fears of a resurgence. 
And the rate is 33 per cent higher than the four-month low of 546 recorded three weeks ago on July 8, just days after top experts warned of an inevitable spike prompted by the relaxation of strict lockdown rules. 
Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, argued that the UK has never been free from infection and warned 'the number of cases measured today are not comparable to March'.
Business leaders reacted warily to the threat of tighter restrictions being introduced over the rise in cases, with top firms saying it is 'vital' crippled economies get the chance to recover this summer.
The most up to date figures show the number of new cases is rocketing upwards in Spain. It announced 6,361 new cases over the weekend, up from 4,581 the previous weekend. France announced 2,551 new coronavirus cases on Monday
The most up to date figures show the number of new cases is rocketing upwards in Spain. It announced 6,361 new cases over the weekend, up from 4,581 the previous weekend. France announced 2,551 new coronavirus cases on Monday
Meanwhile, a further 83 more coronavirus deaths were recorded in Britain — taking the official number of victims to 45,961. But no fatalities were posted in Scotland or Northern Ireland. 
Around 66 people are succumbing to the illness each day, on average. But the fatality curve is no longer flattening as quickly as it was, with the rate having barely changed in the past 10 days. It can take patients several weeks to die, meaning any spike in deaths won't be immediately apparent in government figures. 
Government statistics show the official size of the UK's outbreak now stands at 300,692. 
But the actual size of the outbreak, which began to spiral out of control in March, is estimated to be in the millions, based on antibody testing data. 
The deaths reported by the Department of Health cover those in all settings, including hospitals and care homes. 
The data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.
And the figure does not always match updates provided by the home nations. Department of Health officials work off a different time cut-off, meaning daily updates from Scotland as well as Northern Ireland are always out of sync.
And the count announced by NHS England every afternoon — which only takes into account deaths in hospitals — does not match up with the DH figures because they work off a different recording system.
For instance, some deaths announced by NHS England bosses will have already been counted by the Department of Health, which records fatalities 'as soon as they are available'. 
NHS England posted 14 deaths in hospitals across the country. These include victims who were both confirmed and suspected to have the virus, while the Department of Health only records lab-confirmed Covid-19 deaths.
Wales reported five deaths in all settings after two days of zero fatalities. The country has reported zero deaths on 13 days this month as the virus slowly fizzles out. 
Department of Health figures showed almost 100,000 tests were either carried out or posted yesterday. The number includes antibody tests for frontline NHS and care workers. 
The head of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, warned that the UK was not doing enough to prevent a second wave of the epidemic.
He demanded ministers lay out a coherent strategy for how they plan to prevent a Covid-19 resurgence from battering the UK in the winter, when other illnesses are rife and the NHS is vulnerable to being overwhelmed.
Dr Nagpaul told a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus: 'At the moment we're not doing everything we should in trying to contain the virus. 
'If I look even at something as simple as our messages on social distancing: we're told that social distancing is still two metres, or one metre plus.
'Do you think any member of the public understands what one metre plus means? What does the plus mean? Many don't really understand this because it's not clear and they're not social distancing.'
Dr Nagpaul slammed ministers for not enforcing mask-wearing, saying it risked sending the message they were optional.
He added: 'If you want to suppress a virus you don't just make an announcement and then leave people with free will whether to wear them... you then follow that up with a very systematic approach to make sure that happens.
'What I mean by suppressing is you take an attitude that says: we want to do absolutely everything to make sure the infection doesn't spread. That needs a much more robust approach.'
Oldham overtook Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, with 54.3 coronavirus cases recorded for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26. In comparison, Leicester's outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2. Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week
Oldham overtook Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, with 54.3 coronavirus cases recorded for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26. In comparison, Leicester's outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2. Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week
He warned: 'The point is that I'm not sure that sense of clear, single-minded determination to do everything we can is being done and that's what I mean by suppressing.
'To really take the attitude that yes, we can resume normal living – you can go out, you can do things, but make sure that we have very clear messages about what is expected of both the public and workers to stop the spread.
'There are measures that can be taken and at the moment I think I see too many examples of potential spread, just walking out into the High Street and peering through shop windows. 
'If a hair dresser wears a visor without a mask, that's not going to suppress the virus. Has that message gone to all employers as to what needs to be done to stop the spread of the virus?
'If you look at the figures at the moment, the last ONS figures from last Friday, the weekly figures, the infection rate has increased.
'We're now seeing about 2,700 new cases a day compared to 2,500 the week before. And so I think now is the time we must be much more robust and rigorous about how we mitigate the spread.'
It comes after Boris Johnson warned there are 'signs of a second wave' of Covid-19 in Europe as the Prime Minister defended the UK's decision to reimpose quarantine rules on Spanish travel.   
Leading experts insisted that ministers don't need to panic yet about rising coronavirus cases in Britain, after it was revealed that Boris Johnson fears a second wave could start within a fortnight.
A senior government source told the Mail the Prime Minister was 'extremely concerned' by outbreaks 'bubbling up' both at home and across Europe. A spike in infections have been recorded in Spain, triggering a last-minute decision to place the holiday hotspot on the UK's travel quarantine list, Germany and France.
A Downing Street source said: 'The PM is extremely concerned by what he's seeing abroad and fears we could be seeing the same thing here in a fortnight.
'People have got to realise we are still in the middle of a pandemic. He wants to go further on opening things up and getting people back to work, but he knows it'll be his head on the block if things go wrong.'
But Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia, moved to reassure the nation and said: 'Give us a couple of weeks before we start panicking.' 
He told MailOnline cases in the UK are drifting up but not escalating quickly and revealed it was possible 'we could last out August' without the need to adopt any blanket measures to prevent another crisis.
One scientist warned the spike 'was to be expected' because of lockdown being eased earlier this month, when millions of Britons flocked to pubs to celebrate 'Super Saturday' on July 4. 
Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said: 'The UK has never been free from infection, we have had 100's of cases per day every day since March. However, the number of cases measured are not comparable to March.
'The increase in cases was to be expected, as the lockdown eases, the opportunity for the virus to spread will increase.
'The government intervention that will make the most difference in keeping the lid on this flare up, is the isolation of positive cases.
'I remain concerned that not enough effort has been put into isolation measures. Its self-defeating to vilify young people who are infectious but otherwise well for not wanting to keep making disproportionately heavy financial and life sacrifices.'
He added: 'What I fear is that if we fail to check this flare up, we will head into the winter months with a high level of circulating virus.
'With the normal winter illnesses and greater indoor living, we could then see a return to exponential growth in Covid-19 cases that overwhelms the NHS and requires complete lockdown. Many scientists have consistently emphasised that we have only short time to get our systems ready to prevent this.' 
Ministers have been warning of a potential second wave of the pandemic this winter but now fear it could come sooner. On a visit to Nottingham yesterday, Mr Johnson — who earlier this month played down the prospect of another national lockdown — said Britons must not drop their guard.
He added: 'The most important thing is for everybody in all communities to heed the advice, to follow the advice, not to be spreading it accidentally and get it right down and we'll be able to ease the restrictions across the country.
'But clearly we now face, I'm afraid, the threat of a second wave in other parts of Europe and we just have to be vigilant.' 
But a video of a Staffordshire pub showing some 200 people crammed into a beer garden 'like sardines' in a clear breach of coronavirus rules suggests some Britons have, indeed, dropped their guard. 
The market town is  fighting a coronavirus outbreak linked to the local pub where at least ten people were infected.
Punters and staff who were at the Crown and Anchor in Stone between July 16 and 18 are now being told to urgently get swabs done, as well as anyone who has been in close contact with visitors to the pub.
A new testing centre has been set up 350 yards away at a car park, and people who were out in Stone on one of those nights who have since displayed symptoms despite not going to the pub should also now get a test.
Local resident Ayrron Robinson, who has lived opposite the pub in Stone for four years, filmed the clip from his window after becoming concerned about an apparent lack of social distancing.
He said: 'If we do have to go into local lockdown then the pub has a lot to answer for.'  
Several places in England are under the careful watch of health officials who are trying to squash cases after a recent spike, including Leicester, Oadby and Wigston, Blackburn and Darwen, and Luton. 
Oldham overtook Leicester to have the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, with 54.3 coronavirus cases recorded for every 100,000 people between July 20 and 26.
The weekly infection rate for the Greater Manchester town has risen by 191 per cent. In comparison, Leicester's outbreak has dropped slightly to 53.2.
Only Blackburn with Darwen is currently being hit worse than Oldham, with the area recording 85.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week. 
Local officials have pleaded with locals to abide by tough restrictions implemented yesterday, in a desperate bid to prevent a full-blown lockdown like that seen in Leicester currently. 
Two thirds of new Covid-19 cases in Oldham are among Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, the council said, and a significant proportion of recent cases involve multiple individuals testing positive within a household. 
It comes as scientists are given £4.3million to investigate why black and Asian people are more likely to die from Covid-19.
UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research have funded six new research projects which will examine the link between coronavirus and ethnicity.
Emerging evidence suggests BAME (black and minority ethnic) people are nearly twice as likely to die of Covid-19 than those who are white, after taking into account the age of the individuals and other sociodemographic factors. 
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England and head of the National Institute for Health Research, said: 'With evidence showing that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are more severely affected by Covid-19, it is critical that we understand what factors are driving this risk to address them effectively.
'The diverse range of projects funded will help examine this association in detail, so that new treatments and approaches to care can be developed to target the ethnicities most at risk.
'This research will have embedded patient and public involvement with black, Asian and minority ethnic groups at all stages of the research.'
In other developments in the battle against Covid-19, a multi-million pound deal has been struck in the UK for 60million doses of another potential Covid-19 vaccine - the fourth so far.
Number 10's agreement with pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur mean the UK has access to a total of 250million doses — enough to allow everyone in Britain to have four each, if they work.
Scientists have yet to trial GSK/Sanofi's vaccine on humans and studies to prove it works won't begin until September. Other contenders purchased by Number 10 have already shown signs of promise in tests.
The Government's deal with GSK/Sanofi allegedly costs £500million, The Sunday Times reported earlier this month, which will be paid in stages as the vaccine progresses through clinical trials.
It is not expected to reach phase 3 trials — the last phase of testing before it can be approved for use on humans — until December. 
 
Europe had 50% 'excess mortality' at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak – with Spain seeing a 155% increase compared to Germany's 11%
Europe experienced a 50 per cent rise in excess mortality at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released by France's Insee statistics agency.
The figures show that over the course of one week, between March 30 and April 6, European countries saw more than 33,742 excess deaths.
Excess mortality is the number of deaths in a given period over and above what would normally be expected and is a measure widely used to estimate how many people died due to Covid-19. 
Spain experienced the highest excess mortality in that week, with 155 per cent, after recording 12,545 excess deaths.
It was followed by Italy, Belgium and France during this period which was 'the peak of excess mortality... linked to the COVID-19 epidemic' in Europe, according to Insee. 
Europe experienced a 50 per cent rise in excess mortality at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released by France's Insee statistics agency. Spain experienced the highest excess mortality, between March 30 and April 6, with 155 per cent
Europe experienced a 50 per cent rise in excess mortality at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released by France's Insee statistics agency. Spain experienced the highest excess mortality, between March 30 and April 6, with 155 per cent
Germany, western Europe's most populated country, had a comparably much lower excess mortality rate across the same period.  
The study did not mention data from Britain, which has Europe's highest coronavirus death toll, as it is no longer a member of the European Union.
But previous figures from the Office for National Statistics placed England and Wales among the worst effected countries across a similar period.
In previous years the number of deaths in Europe tend to decline from March onwards after the annual flu season.
But the Insee agency said that in 2020 the figure rose sharply based on data collected by EU agency Eurostat from 21 national jurisdictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.  
Italy had  awhere 7,669 excess deaths were recorded. where 7,669 excess deaths were recorded.
Italy had a 67 per cent increase in excess mortality rate with the country recording 7,669 excess deaths over the set week. Pictured: Medical staff treating coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy
Compared to data for the years 2016 to 2019, Spain had the highest excess mortality in that week, with 155 per cent, after recording 12,545 excess deaths.
This was followed by 91 per cent in Belgium with 1,908 excess deaths and 67 per cent in Italy where 7,669 excess deaths were recorded. 
France was also amongst the worst hit with a 60 per cent increase in the excess mortality rate after reporting 7,327 additional deaths, said the Insee.
Germany had a comparably much lower excess mortality rate of just 11 per cent with 2,076 excess deaths across the same period.  
The study did not mention data from Britain but figures previously released by the ONS showed that in England and Wales there were 6,082 excess deaths across a similar time period - 59 per cent above average. 
Spain had the highest excess mortality in that week, with 155 per cent, after recording 12,545 excess deaths. Pictured: Temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients located at the Ifema convention and exhibition centre in Madrid, Spain, following the peak of the pandemic
Spain had the highest excess mortality in that week, with 155 per cent, after recording 12,545 excess deaths. Pictured: Temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients located at the Ifema convention and exhibition centre in Madrid, Spain, following the peak of the pandemic
The overall excess mortality rate for Europe was 48 per cent following 33,742 excess deaths.
The upward trend in excess mortality rates decreased progressively across Europe and all but disappeared by the beginning of May.
Over a longer period, from March 2 to April 26, the Insee said more than 80 per cent of the excess mortality jointly registered in 21 European countries was from Spain, Italy, Belgium and France. 
As a whole, more men than women died, the data showed, and these were mostly people aged 70 and older. 
It noted a series of marked differences in excess mortality between countries and even between regions within countries.
These were likely due to differences in population age and density, access to healthcare, the timing and method of lifting confinement measures, and the ability to work from home, according to the Insee, though it could not say which factors played the biggest role.

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