UK sees 132% spike in new coronavirus infections in space of two weeks
Cases top 6,000 on Wednesday as second wave continues to spread
It comes day after Boris Johnson announced new coronavirus rules
Coronavirus cases have spiked 132% in a fortnight, new figures have revealed.
The latest government statistics demonstrate how quickly the virus is spreading in the second wave, with 6,178 cases recorded on Wednesday.
This marks a 132% jump from the 2,659 infections recorded two weeks ago, on 9 September.
It is also the highest daily figure since 1 May, nearly five months ago, when there were 6,201 infections.
Watch: Timeline of key events since UK was put into lockdown in March
Meanwhile, the government said a further 37 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19. This was the same number as recorded on Tuesday.
In total, there have been 409,729 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the UK, with 41,862 deaths.
The latest figures come a day after Boris Johnson announced a raft of new measures – including encouraging office staff to work from home, pubs closing at 10pm and wedding attendance being cut from 30 to 15 – in a bid to restrict the spread of the virus. The rules are set to last six months.
Johnson later blamed the second wave of infections on rule breakers as he hinted at the possibility of a second lockdown if new cases do not fall.
The challenges facing the prime minister have been laid bare.
On the one hand, he faces criticism over the economic pressures that could be exacerbated by the more stringent restrictions, particularly when the furlough scheme – which has cost the government £39.3 billion to date – expires at the end of October.
On the other hand, health experts and scientists have warned the measures announced on Tuesday do not go "anywhere near far enough". Prof John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said a curfew on bars and restaurants is likely to have a “trivial” effect.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab insisted the government’s approach is focused, balanced and proportionate. He said: “Let’s hope that we can get through the winter months if we take these measures... and we go into Christmas not needing to go into that national lockdown with all the impact on society and families but also the damage it would do to businesses."
Johnson, meanwhile, has rejected an MP’s claim that he and Sir Patrick are using “scare tactics” to push through the new restrictions.
Responding to the DUP’s Sammy Wilson at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Johnson – who nearly died from the virus six months ago – said: “Everybody should look at what’s already happened in the first phases of this pandemic and be in no doubt that it is possible that such a thing could happen again.”
On Monday, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, issued a series of warnings about the virus, saying it was doubling every seven days and that if this continued unabated, there could be just under 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October.