Official UK daily coronavirus death toll could be SCRAPPED after row over PHE ‘exaggerating’ the tally by blaming it for all deaths from people who have caught it

  • The official coronavirus daily death count could be scrapped following an investigation into how it’s counted  
  • The conclusions of the investigation, ordered by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, are expected this week
  • One recommendation could be to move to a weekly official death toll, a government source said

Britain’s official coronavirus daily death count could be scrapped following an investigation into Public Health England’s method of counting the toll.

The conclusions of the investigation, which was ordered by Health Secretary Matt Hancock after it emerged officials were ‘exaggerating’ virus deaths, are expected this week, The Telegraph reported.

One recommendation could be to move to a weekly official death toll, a government source said.

Britain paused its daily update of the death toll last month and the government ordered a review into how Public Health England reports coronavirus deaths, after academics said the daily figures may include people who died of other causes.

Academics in a blog post had warned that the way the government health agency calculated the figures was skewed as patients who tested positive for coronavirus, but are successfully treated, will still be counted as dying from the virus ‘even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later’.

England’s death figures vary substantially from day to day due to this reason, the academics had argued.

In contrast, the other parts of the United Kingdom do not follow the same approach. There is a cut-off threshold of 28 days in Scotland after a positive test, after which a patient is not automatically considered to have died from the virus.

Britain, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday, its highest daily increase since June, taking the total number of cases past 310,000.  

Britain’s official coronavirus daily death count could be scrapped following an investigation into Public Health England’s method of counting the toll 

Britain’s total coronavirus cases have jumped by 1,062 in the biggest daily rise in six weeks. The country has not seen an increase this large since June 25 – when 1,118 cases were reported in a single day

On July 28, a senior government source said Prime Minister Boris Johnson was ‘extremely concerned’ by outbreaks ‘bubbling up’, both at home and abroad

Holidaymakers and sunbathers flock to the beach at the seaside in Bournemouth on a scorching hot sunny day

The country has not seen an increase this large since June 25 – when 1,118 cases were reported in a single day.

The numbers come almost exactly a fortnight after Boris Johnson predicted a second wave in two weeks.

On July 28, a senior government source said Prime Minister Boris Johnson was ‘extremely concerned’ by outbreaks ‘bubbling up’, both at home and abroad. 

Scotland reported 48 new cases on Sunday, while Wales reported a further 26. 

The drastic rise in figures – up from 758 the previous day – may come as a shock to lockdown-sceptic revelers who flocked to Britain’s beaches over the weekend. 

Swathes of beachgoers were pictured dotted along the coast – with many ignoring social distancing rules.

While case figures have shot up, the country’s daily death toll remains low after a further eight people who tested positive for Covid-19 died in Britain. Both Scotland and Wales reported no further deaths.

The patients who died in England were aged between 45 and 89 and all had known underlying health conditions.

The region with the highest number of deaths was the Midlands with four.

Beaches were seen packed with holidaymakers and sunbathers as people pitched up picnics and umbrellas during the scorching weather on Sunday 

Eager holidaymakers queued to get a spot on busy Bournemouth beach Sunday morning, as some eager people even camped out the night before to claim their sunbathing patch

There were three deaths in the North East and Yorkshire, two in the East of England and one in London.

There were no deaths reported in the North West, where local lockdown measures in place in Greater Manchester and parts of east Lancashire were extended on Friday to include Preston.

Minister rejects Children’s Commissioner’s  calls for regular testing in schools  

The government’s schools minister has slapped down calls from England’s Children’s Commissioner to introduce routine testing when schools reopen in September.

Nick Gibb today said students and staff would only be tested if they displayed symptoms.

But Anne Longfield earlier called for checks to become ‘part and parcel’ of school life and suggested they should be done weekly.

She told Times Radio: ‘I think it needs to be as regular as it needs to be for the infection to be caught… certainly not one-offs but regular occurrences so they’re part and parcel of the running of a school.’

But speaking on the same programme, Mr Gibb later said: ‘Anybody who shows symptoms in schools will be tested, not routine testing, the advice we have is it’s better when people show symptoms.

‘If they test positive the people that pupil has been in contact with will be self-isolating.

Everything we do is led by the science, the priority for the new 90-minute tests has to be the new hospitals and laboratories, the measures we are putting in place, the hierarchy of controls is the most effective measures of the virus.’

Figures released on Sunday are usually smaller due to a delay in processing over the weekend. 

The figures came as a landmark coronavirus study found the risk of transmission in classrooms is minimal, ratcheting up pressure on the Education Secretary to fully reopen schools in September.

Boris Johnson is understood to have warned that Gavin Williamson’s ‘head will be on the chopping block’ if pupils are not back in lessons next month.

The Prime Minister has declared resuming classes a ‘national priority’ and is planning an advertising blitz to urge anxious parents to send their child back to school.

His campaign was bolstered on Saturday by encouraging scientific evidence which found a low threat of catching infection in schools.

Government Sage adviser Professor Russell Viner outlined the forthcoming Public Health England study and stressed that reopening schools was ‘imperative’. 

As the reopening of schools was bumped to the top of ministers’ agenda:  

  • Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield called on the government to introduce regular testing for all students and staff in schools;
  • Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green said she supports getting children back to school in September, but said the government needs to ramp up its track and trace system; 
  • New research laid bare the damaging educational impact on pupils who have missed schooling during the lockdown;  
  • Scientific advisers warned that the UK-wide reproduction rate, R, is between 0.8 and 1.0, the point at which the virus starts spreading exponentially again; 
  • Oxford University researchers developing a vaccine were embroiled in an ethics row about whether to deliberately infect human volunteers – and warned that although there was a 50 per cent chance of a jab being available next year, it was likely to be only partially effective and carry side-effects; 
  • A survey found that barely half of the adult population is committed to being immunised against Covid-19;   
  • Up to 16 children and staff were forced to isolate at home after a coronavirus outbreak at a nursery in Bury, which has also been put into local lockdown.


Boris Johnson (right) is understood to have warned that Gavin Williamson’s  (left) ‘head will be on the chopping block’ if pupils are not back in lessons next month 

Leading scientist Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of Sage said: ‘A new study that has been done in UK schools confirms there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted in schools

Mr Johnson outlined concerns in an article for yesterday’s Mail on Sunday where he heralded the resuming of lessons a ‘moral duty’ and ‘crucial’ for pupils’ ‘welfare, their health and for their future.’

He wrote: ‘The education of our children is crucial for their welfare, their health and for their future. That is why it is a national priority to get all pupils back into school in September.

‘The message I have given to Ministers and civil servants is this: we can do it – and we will do it. Social justice demands it.’

He spoke of the ‘uplifting sight… as millions of parents rose to the challenge of educating their children’ amid the added pressures of lockdown, but said that had to end. 

A PHE study, which tested more than 20,000 pupils and 100 teachers, is hoped to allay the concerns of wary teacher unions, which thwarted ministers’ initial attempts to resume classes for fears of staff catching the virus.


Ministers are poised to lock horns with union bosses who have unveiled a list of demands if teachers are to go back next month. Mary Bousted, head of the National Education Union, (left)  urged schools to ignore ‘threatening noises’ from the Government and refuse to reopen if they feel it is unsafe

Union bosses were this weekend accused of ‘nit-picking’ after releasing an exhaustive list of 200 safety demands. 

The National Education Union has urged its 450,000 teachers to ‘escalate’ action if their schools do not adhere to their 200-strong Covid-secure checklist.

Obese people could be told to stay at home in Covid hotspots if virus cases surge amid second wave this autumn

By Kate Dennett For Mailonline

Obese people could be among those told to stay home in coronavirus hotspots if there is a second wave of cases this autumn.

The Government is said to be looking at plans for a ‘more sophisticated model’ of shielding to avoid another mass lockdown.

Officials are considering how NHS data could target vulnerable groups, including those who are obese, so they can be told to stay indoors if there is a second coronavirus wave, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Obese people could reportedly be among vulnerable groups told to stay at home if there is a second coronavirus wave this autumn (file photo)

One Cabinet minister reportedly described the plan to tell those who are especially vulnerable to shield as a ‘stiletto not a sledgehammer’ method.

Those who are over-50 could also be among vulnerable groups contacted and told to stay indoors if there is a second coronavirus spike this autumn.

A Cabinet minister told the Telegraph: ‘They are understanding that age does come into it. The shielding cohort is way too broad – you can’t say that every fat person has to shield. It will be more subtle.’ 

This comes after stricter lockdown rules were imposed in Preston, following other northern towns, and young people were urged to follow the new regulations.

It was revealed half of the 61 new coronavirus cases in the newly-locked down city are under the age of 30, as fears rise that ‘bold’ young people are ignoring social distancing.

Council chiefs in Preston also launched a powerful ‘don’t kill granny’ message to encourage youngsters to follow the rules.

Bradford has also seen its tightened measures extended for another week, as other towns, including Aberdeen and Leicester, are also adhering to local lockdowns.

Over-50s could also be told to shield if there is a second wave, as the Government is said to be looking at plans for a ‘more sophisticated model’ of shielding (file photo)

Local Government Association also called for councils to be given more powers to shut down rule-breaking pubs nationwide, as revellers continue to pack into venues up and down the country.

Experts warned that being in a busy pub carries more risk of spreading coronavirus than being on an aeroplane, as aircrafts have better ventilation.

Dr Julian W Tang, honorary associate professor of respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester, said the most common method of transmission in the UK is probably ‘conversational exposure’.

The spike in Preston was blamed on households mixing in pubs and homes and the spike in Aberdeen’s lockdown came after an outbreak of cases linked to a number of bars emerged.

Local lockdowns will continue to be based on council boundaries, while rural areas could see it only applying to market down in villages.

The Department of Health and Social Care have declined to comment. 

The demands included assurances the working day will not be lengthened, children waiting to be picked up to be kept isolated, and support for staff suffering workload anxiety. 

Education select committee chair Robert Halfon MP last night hit out at the demands and told the Sun on Sunday: ‘It is incredible not one of these 200 nitpicking questions asks the most important thing of all – what’s best for the kids?’ 

But Amanda Martin, co-president of the NEU, said there is no price on safety, and pointed out that they had been urging their members to plan for the reopening in September. 

She told Times Radio: ‘I think the NEU right from the beginning has been on the right side of history by saying schools should remain open to key worker kids and the most vulnerable.

‘We have half a million members, we have had schools open all the way through lockdown and we have been supporting them with checklists… We have said schools should be ready to open in September.’

She said her union has requested information from Sage and the government for a risk assessment about reopening schools in September.   

Prof Viner, a member of Sage, insisted reopening schools was a non-negotiable, even if it meant sacrificing other freedoms as a trade-off.  

The desperate need to prioritse education was endorsed by Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield, who said in the event of future lockdowns schools should not be closed as a default to save ‘disruption to the lives of adults’.

She today threw her weight behind Mr Johnson’s bullishness to reopen schools, even if it meant pubs were sacrificed. 

Speaking to Times Radio, she said: ‘Children have been out of schools for five months… There was a moment I thought children have been forgotten in the relaxation.

‘They must reopen and they must stay open so if there are future lockdowns they are the last to close and first to reopen.’

Quizzed if that meant people should be restricted from indoor drinking in pubs, she said: ‘I’ve talked about that when decisions need to be made in future lockdowns,  it makes absolute sense if there’s a limited amount of social interactions before infections are raised.’

She said she was ‘dismayed’ that theme parks and even zoos were opened before schools, but said she is pleased that the PM has bumped resuming lessons to the top of the government’s agenda. 

Ms Longfield said that regular testing should become ‘part and parcel’ of school life from next month.

She said: ‘I think it needs to be as regular as it needs to be for the infection to be caught… certainly not one-offs but regular occurrences so they’re part and parcel of the running of a school.’

But this was slapped down by schools minister Nick Gibb, who said only those who developed symptoms would be tested.

The minister this morning told Times Radio: ‘Anybody who shows symptoms in schools will be tested, it won’t be routine testing… the advice we have is it’s better when people show symptoms.

‘If they test positive the people that pupil has been in contact with will be self-isolating… Everything we do is led by the science… the priority for the new 90-minute tests has to be the new hospitals and laboraties, the measures we are putting in place, the hierarchy of controls is the most effective measures of the virus.’

On masks, he added: ‘These kind of issues will be up to head teachers, but there’s no need for masks to be worn within schools if the hierarchy of controls, the measures I have outlines, are in place.’

Labour expressed support for the reopening of schools in September, but urged the government to support teachers by bolstering the test and trace infrastructure. 

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said: ‘I think it’s essential that schools open in September and that all pupils are expected to be back in the classrooms.

‘I do think the Government could be doing more to support them (teachers) particularly, for example, making sure we’ve got a really robust Test and Trace system in place.

‘The work is being done to make schools safe but more is needed to support those schools, they may need extra resources for example for extra clearing or to stagger the school day or to make sure children can travel to and fro safely.

‘The Government has a window between now and the beginning of September to get that right and it absolutely must do so.

‘It’s really, really important that we don’t write off a generation of Covid children – they need to be back in class, the whole of our futures depend on this.’ 

Boris Johnson has said that getting children back to school is a national priority (pictured during a visit to The Discovery School in Kings Hill last month)

Source: Read Full Article