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22 September 2020 00:33

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Coronavirus: UK's COVID-19 alert level upgraded to level four amid 'rapidly' rising cases

After a summer of crowded beaches and pubs reopening, followed by children returning to school and employees going back to the workplace, new cases of Covid-19 are definitely on the rise. In the starkest scenario, laid out by the government scientific and medical advisers Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty on Monday, the UK could be headed for almost 50,000 cases a day in less than a month, leading to more than 200 deaths a day by mid-November. While a range of possible interventions means it isn't inevitable the UK will see 50,000 cases by mid-October, there are a number of indications that things are heading the wrong way. And even though we are starting at a low base (there were 205 new Covid admissions on Friday in England compared with 3,099 new patients admitted in just one day at the peak on 1 April) this is data with an inevitable outcome: more hospital admissions lead to more deaths. However, the increase in new cases continued until mid-April, when the seven-day average peaked at 5,195, and given limited testing capacity at the time that figure could have been far higher.

The UK's coronavirus system explained – and why the level has changed The Joint Biosecurity Centre recommended that all four nations in the UK should move to Level 4 following after the number of coronavirus cases rose in recent weeks The UK's chief medical officers have recommended that the UK's Covid-19 alert status should be increased to Level 4. In a joint statement, the experts from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said that the changes should apply to all four nations following an increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. Here's how the UK's Covid alert system announced as part of the Government's "road map" out of the pandemic works, what the change of status actually means. The chief medical officers of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland announced the change in a joint statement on the evening of Monday 21 September. They said: "The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that the Covid-19 alert level should move from Level 3 (a Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation) to Level 4 (a Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially).

"The CMOs for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and recommend all four nations of the UK should move to Level 4. "After a period of lower Covid cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations. "If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly. Earlier in the day, the chief medical officer Professor Chris Witty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance had used a special press briefing to warn of the continued spread of coronavirus around the UK. Run by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, it is informed primarily by the R rate, which has been increasing in recent weeks, and the overall number of coronavirus cases in the country, which has also climbed steadily.

When it was announced, the PM explained: "That Covid alert level will tell us how tough we have to be in our social-distancing measures – the lower the level, the fewer the measures. Level 5 – Critical: This level would require a strict lockdown and means the virus is spreading fast, and could overwhelm the NHS. This level would require a strict lockdown and means the virus is spreading fast, and could overwhelm the NHS. It means that the epidemic is in general circulation, with transmission high or rising exponentially but without the NHS being overwhelmed. Level 3 – Substantial: The UK's previous level means the virus is in general circulation, but at a level which allows the gradual lifting of some restrictions and social distancing measures.

The UK's previous level means the virus is in general circulation, but at a level which allows the gradual lifting of some restrictions and social distancing measures. Level 2 – Moderate: This means there is a low level of virus transmission and the NHS is operating normally, allowing no or minimal social distancing measures. This means there is a low level of virus transmission and the NHS is operating normally, allowing no or minimal social distancing measures. At the time, the Joint Biosecurity Centre advised: "There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues. The UK's COVID-19 alert level has been moved from level three to level four, meaning transmission of the virus is high or rising exponentially.

The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland recommended upgrading the measure to the second-highest level due to a "rapidly" rising number of cases. The COVID-19 alert level had previously been at four during the peak of the pandemic earlier this year, before being moved down to three in the middle of June following a steady decrease in the number of coronavirus infections. Announcing the decision to move the alert level back up, the chief medical officers said in a statement: "The CMOs for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and recommend all four nations of the UK should move to level 4. "After a period of lower COVID cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations. The chief medical officers took the action after a recommendation by the government's Joint Biosecurity Centre. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The raising of the alert level announced by the UK chief medical officers reflects the significant shift in the current threat posed by coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the creation of the Joint Biosecurity Centre - and a five-tier alert system to rank the threat from coronavirus - in May this year. Level 4 - This means the COVID-19 epidemic "is in general circulation" and the "transmission is high or rising exponentially". Level 3 - While this level also suggests the epidemic is "in general circulation", it omits the statement "transmission is high or rising exponentially". The alert level was lowered to level three in June and came amid the relaxation of some COVID-19 restrictions. Level 2 - To shift to this level, the government guidance says the virus would be present in the UK, but that the number of cases and transmission is low. Earlier on Monday, the government's chief scientific adviser warned that the UK could see around 50,000 COVID-19 cases per day by the middle of October if current infection rates continue. THE alert level for Covid-19 across the UK should be increased, medical experts have advised. In its recommendation, released on Monday, the Joint Biosecurity Centre said the level should move from three (a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation) to four (a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially). The Chief Medical Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and recommend all four nations of the UK should move to level four. A spokesman for the Joint Biosecurity Centre said: "After a period of lower COVID cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations. "If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly. For example, the headline figure released on Monday September 21, saw 15 new positive tests reported. It is the number of new cases PHW were aware of as of September 20 – the day before. This is because the 15 cases were actually tested for a few days prior, but PHW only became aware of them on September 20. However, the figures do show the week up to September 20 saw 96 new cases of coronavirus recorded in Caerphilly County Borough.