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'Worrying' signs of infection in the old as R rate rises above 1

Now coronavirus rise spreads to the middle-aged: England is on the brink of losing control of Covid outbreak, warns SAGE adviser – as infections in the over-50s soar by 92 PER CENT

  • Public Health England data shows that Covid infections in the over-50s has risen by a staggering 92 per cent
  • Infections increased 72 per cent among those in their 60s, and 44 per cent among those in their 80s 
  • Yvonne Doyle, medical director at PHE, urged people to socially distance, wash their hands and wear masks
  • Data published as tough new anti-Covid panic restrictions are imposed across England this weekend

SAGE has warned that England is now on the brink of ‘losing control’ of a new Covid outbreak amid ‘worrying’ signs of coronavirus among middle-aged people as infections in the over-50s soar by 92 per cent. 

More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus were officially recorded yesterday while a Government-led study by Imperial College London showed the number of infections was doubling each week. 

Public Health England (PHE) data suggests that Covid-19 cases are surging among the over-50s, as senior officials last night warned of ‘worrying’ signs for high-risk groups. Last week, infections increased 92 per cent among people aged 50 to 59, 72 per cent among those in their 60s, and 44 per cent among those in their 80s and older.  

There was a 20 per cent increase in Covid-related admissions last week compared with the previous week among those aged 60-75, a 72 per cent increase among 75 to 84-year-olds, and a 67 per cent rise in those 85 and over.

A PHE source said there is a massive concern in official circles that the spike in Covid cases could lead to more hospitalisations, telling The Daily Telegraph: ‘The great worry is that that is what’s coming next.’ 

The Government is imposing panic restrictions across England, with Boris Johnson’s draconian new ‘rule of six’ due to kick into force on Monday amid fears the reproduction ‘R’ rate could be as high as 1.7. 

Yvonne Doyle, medical director at PHE, said: ‘3,539 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported overnight, compared to 2,919 yesterday. Most of these cases are people tested in the community. 

‘Although younger people continue to make up the greatest share of new cases, we’re now starting to see worrying signs of infections occurring in the elderly, who are at far higher risk of getting seriously ill.

‘This is a reminder of the ongoing risk as the virus spreads throughout the UK. People should continue to follow social distancing rules, wash their hands regularly and wear a face covering in enclosed spaces.’ 

In other coronavirus developments in Britain today:

  • Government scientist Sir Mark Walpole warned the public the UK is on the brink of ‘losing control’ of the virus;
  • Boris Johnson is drawing up tough new ‘carrot and stick’ plans to punish people who flout quarantine; 
  • Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove rubbished claims that Eat Out To Help Out contributed to transmission; 
  • Mr Gove added the British public should only be able to enjoy their freedom if it is exercised ‘responsibly’; 
  • Police chiefs warned urged people to avoid a ‘party weekend’ before new anti-Covid restrictions are imposed

PHE data seen by The Daily Telegraph suggests that Covid-19 cases are surging among the over-50s, as senior officials last night warned of ‘worrying’ signs for high-risk groups. Last week, infections apparently increased 92 per cent among those in their 50s, 72 per cent among those in their 60s, and 44 per cent among those in their 80s and older

Last week, infections increased 92 per cent among those in their 50s, 72 per cent among those in their 60s, and 44 per cent among those in their 80s and older (pictured: people wearing face masks and visors in Leeds, July 23, 2020)

Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: ‘3,539 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported overnight, compared to 2,919 yesterday. Most of these cases are people tested in the community’

The Government is imposing panic restrictions across England, with Boris Johnson’s draconian new ‘rule of six’ due to kick into force on Monday amid fears the reproduction ‘R’ rate could be as high as 1.7 

More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus were officially recorded yesterday while a Government-led study by Imperial College London showed the number of infections was doubling each week

Experts who have been swabbing tens of thousands of people in England found 13 people per 10,000 were infected between August 22 and September 7, compared to four per 10,000 between July 24 and August 11.

Weekly cases in men aged 60 to 69 rose from 221 to 352 in the past week, an increase of 60 per cent, while among women in the same age group there was a 72 per cent jump from 219 to 376.

Was Eat Out to Help Out behind Britain’s Covid case spike? ‘Rapid acceleration’ in cases could be linked to hugely popular scheme, Oxford researcher says 

A ‘rapid acceleration’ in coronavirus cases could be linked to the hugely popular Eat Out to Help Out scheme, an Oxford University researcher has said. 

The scheme, which involved the government fronting 50 per cent of the bill up to £10 per head at participating restaurants from Monday to Wednesday, has been hailed as the hospitality industry’s saviour. 

However, a new report from Oxford University public policy researcher Toby Phillips suggests the scheme may have contributed to a ‘rapid acceleration’ in reported infections in Britain and ‘encouraged extravagant levels of eating out’. 

Today a Government-led study revealed that coronavirus infections are doubling every week and the reproduction ‘R’ rate could be as high as 1.7. 

According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, this dramatic increase in cases warrants additional measures being rolled out, including the controversial strict new rule of six, which will legally prohibit gatherings of more than six people.     

Officials had said that while the rise in cases was apparent in younger age groups, it was likely to move on to older people, which would be followed by an increase in hospitalisations.      

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the alleged spike in coronavirus infections justifies the Government’s ‘arbitrary’ new ‘rule of six’, warning people ‘the pandemic is not over’. 

The Imperial College London REACT-1 study found the epidemic is doubling in size every ‘seven to eight days’. By comparison, Covid-19 infections were increasing by twofold every three days at the start of the crisis. 

The Department of Health confirmed on Friday another 3,539 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and six more people have died. The new diagnoses are the highest since May 17.

And data from the Office for National Statistics suggests 3,200 people are getting sick every day in England and Wales – a surge of 45 per cent from last week’s prediction of 2,200. 

The number of people testing positive may be higher because they were not all tested on the same day and test results take time to process, meaning they are not evenly distributed.    

The Imperial findings were published as the Government prepares to impose its new ‘rule of six’ social gathering restriction from Monday which outlaws groups of seven or more people from meeting up indoors and outdoors.

Mr Hancock said on Friday: ‘The pandemic is not over, and everyone has a role to play. It’s so important that everyone abides by the law and socialise in groups up to six, make space between you and those outside your household, get a test and self-isolate if you develop symptoms and wash your hands regularly.’ 

SAGE urging the public to adhere to the new ‘rule of six’, with Sir Mark Walport claiming today that the UK is ‘on the edge of losing control’ of coronavirus. 

Speaking to the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, Government scientist Sir Mark said that the Government-led study on the ‘R’ rate showed that people contracting coronavirus ‘weren’t worried about catching it’. 

He recommended a ‘mixture of carrots and sticks’, adding: ‘It’s one thing to have a rule, it’s a question of adhering to it. It’s a question of making sure in public spaces… that the landlords actually do make people behave.

‘I think that we are on the edge of losing control (of the virus). You only have to look across the Channel to see what’s happening in France, and what’s happening in Spain. 

 More than 3,000 cases of coronavirus were officially recorded yesterday while a Government-led study by Imperial College London showed the number of infections was doubling each week

‘Only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we come into contact with. It means we’re going to have to hold back our contacts in other areas. 

‘Where people can work from home, there is an extremely strong argument that they should do so. It’s very difficult to control a disease if you can’t test for it and identify it.’ 

Michael Gove played a key role in forcing through the rule of six at Covid cabinet meeting – and has ‘been consistently on the side of the toughest approach’, says source 

Michael Gove played a key role in pushing through this week’s controversial Covid-19 clampdown, it emerged last night.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was heavily outnumbered at a meeting of Boris Johnson’s Covid cabinet on Tuesday when he put forward plans to cut the limit on social gatherings to just six.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Business Secretary Alok Sharma, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Home Secretary Priti Patel are understood to have made the case for a higher limit of at least eight. 

But a Cabinet source said Mr Gove had also played a pivotal role in ensuring that the controversial rule of six was brought in. 

‘Michael was driving this. For some time now he’s been consistently on the side of the toughest, most heavy-handed approach,’ the source said.

‘There was a lot of dissent. The PM was completely torn, and the meeting did not conclude well.’

One Cabinet minister told the Mail: ‘The numbers are awful and it is clear we have got to do something.

‘But the idea of the Government threatening to fine and arrest people for seeing their families makes me feel sick.’ 

It comes amid reports that Boris Johnson drawing up tough new plans to crack down on people who flout quarantine restrictions after an official study claimed that 20 per cent routinely ignore self-isolation rules. 

The Prime Minister is thought to be considering a ‘carrot and stick’ approach where people who follow Government instructions could be given bigger payments while they isolate. 

Police have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for breaching quarantine, though they have barely been used, with just 34 people having been penalised since the measures were introduced.   

Ministers are even creating a hotline for snoopers to report neighbours who are breaking quarantine rules to the police – a measure encouraged by officers at the start of lockdown.

The proposal was discussed by Cabinet ministers on Tuesday, according to The Times. A Government source told the newspaper that the hotline plans were ‘exploratory’ but not yet official policy. 

An increase in spot checks by public health officials is also being prepared by ministers whose ‘rule of six’ outlawing social gatherings of seven or more people comes into force in England on Monday. 

The Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference last week that the Government was planning to recruit ‘Covid marshals’ to enforce coronavirus-specific guidance such as social distancing.

Under the strict new measures, groups of more than six can be broken up by police who will be able to hand out £100 fines to those who flout the rules. This will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200.  

Ministers are planning on bringing in tougher measures to make sure that arrivals to the UK provide their contact details at airports as the Government panics about an alleged spike in Covid cases. 

The Government’s new quarantine restrictions on travellers from Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion came into force today at 4am after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps removed the countries from its quarantine exemption list – meaning new arrivals coming into England must self-isolate for 14 days.   

MPs have slammed Government attempts to impose the anti-Covid restrictions on Monday without a debate in Parliament, with Speaker Lindsay Hoyle threatening to force an urgent question if Matt Hancock refused to appear before the House of Commons.  

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove today urged people to act ‘in tune with’ the rules this weekend ahead of the ‘rule of six’ coming into force or risk increasing the rate of spread of coronavirus. 

Boris Johnson is drawing up tough new plans to crack down on people who flout quarantine restrictions after an official study claimed that 20 per cent of Covid patients routinely ignore self-isolation rules 

Police have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for breaching quarantine, though they have barely been used (pictured: protestors at Wollaton Hall Park Nottingham, on May 16, 2020. Two mass gatherings were due to take place in Nottingham)

Cabinet at war over the rule of six: Almost every minister on Boris Johnson’s Covid committee argued against the stringent limit – and even the PM himself was ‘cautious’- but Matt Hancock got his way 

Boris Johnson’s Covid clampdown has divided his Cabinet, it emerged last night.

He faces a fierce Tory backlash over the contentious ‘rule of six’ that bans gatherings of seven or more from Monday.

A string of senior ministers opposed the measure at a crunch meeting, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak among those to speak out.

A Cabinet source said the rule of six was opposed by every member of the Prime Minister’s coronavirus strategy committee on Tuesday apart from Matt Hancock. The Health Secretary is said to have driven the decision, supported by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

‘Everyone apart from Hancock wanted to set the limit on groups at eight or more,’ the source said.

‘Even the PM was initially cautious about taking the limit all the way down to six. The majority view was that this level of social distancing will have a huge impact on people’s lives and the economy. But Hancock got his way.’

Announcing the crackdown on Wednesday, Mr Johnson insisted it was needed to keep virus cases under control even though it ‘broke his heart’ to keep families apart.

Downing Street denied the Prime Minister had been steered into the decision by Mr Hancock and the scientific advisers. ‘The PM wasn’t talked round by anyone,’ said an insider.

But multiple sources confirmed that ministers on the high-powered committee had disagreed about how far to cut the 30-person legal limit on gatherings. ‘I wouldn’t characterise it as a row, but it’s fair to say there was a vigorous debate,’ said one.

Mr Sunak is said to have pushed for the limit to be at least eight and Business Secretary Alok Sharma is thought to have argued for a higher figure. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is also said to have raised concerns. 

His intervention comes as officials tell the Mail that a second national lockdown can be avoided if people follow the new ‘rule of six’. 

Mr Gove told BBC Breakfast this morning: ‘If people do behave in a way that is not really in line or in tune with the guidelines that have been put out then they are putting other people at risk.

‘The reason why the country’s police chiefs have said that they hope people behave with appropriate restraint this weekend is we do not want to see a further acceleration of the spread of the virus.’

He denied that the Government was losing control of Covid-19. ‘No. I don’t accept that,’ he said. 

Mr Gove also rubbished claims that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out programme contributed to the spread of coronavirus, and said fines could be necessary in order to enforce self-isolation rules.

Speaking to the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, he said: ‘We’re not saying people shouldn’t see their friends but there does need to be a degree of self-discipline, of restriction to deal with the challenges we are facing.’

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also responded to criticism of the Government’s anti-Covid crackdown, saying people can only have freedom if it is exercised ‘responsibly’.  

‘I don’t want to see fines being levied but even more I do not want to see people behaving in a way that puts the most vulnerable at risk,’ Mr Gove told the Today programme this morning. 

‘Well there are restrictions, and I love freedom, but the one thing I think is even more important is that you exercise freedom with responsibility. 

‘When you are exercising freedom, you should do so in a way that does not do harm to others.’ 

Responding to Sir Mark’s warnings, Mr Gove added: ‘I think Sir Mark’s words… is a warning to us all. There’s a range of scientific opinion but one thing on which practically every scientist is agreed is that we have seen an uptick in infection and therefore it is appropriate we take public health measures.’ 

Public health officials point to an alleged spike in Covid cases, with a Government-led study published yesterday suggesting that the reproduction ‘R’ rate could be as high as 1.7 in England. 

As hundreds of Britons enjoyed a final weekend of freedom, police bosses urged people to look after each other and avoid a ‘party weekend’ before the restrictions are implemented. 

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: ‘There is a real risk some members of the public will take advantage of the current situation and treat this weekend as a party weekend ahead of the tighter restrictions being introduced on Monday. 

‘Alcohol and warm weather are not a good combination at the best of times. Using the current situation as an opportunity and excuse to party would be incredibly irresponsible and put pressure not only on policing, but potentially on the ambulance service and NHS.

‘We are in the grip of a deadly pandemic and we have seen cases increasing over recent weeks. 

‘Policing is under pressure like never before, but my colleagues will give enforcement notices if they feel it’s appropriate, and we make no apology for doing so.’ 

Elsewhere, would-be revellers were encouraged to stay home as Birmingham became the latest city to be hit with localised lockdown rules after the number of coronavirus patients being admitted to hospitals doubled in a week. 

From Tuesday, more than 1.5million people in Birmingham and neighbouring Solihull and Sandwell will be banned from mixing with anyone outside of their own household in private homes, pubs, restaurants or in gardens.

Yesterday, police officers told the Telegraph they fear Britain will resemble the ‘last days of Rome’ after this weekend amid a storm of decadent planned pre-lockdown parties.  

One officer, based in the North East, said: ‘We are worried this weekend is going to be like the last days of Rome. If people think they are not going to be allowed to go out and enjoy themselves for the next few months, they are going to go crazy and we will be left picking up the pieces.’

People gather at More London Place near London Bridge in London for one more weekend of freedom before the government implements its new rule of six from Monday

People gather outside the The Shipwrights Arms near London Bridge on Friday for a final weekend of freedom out before the new rules hit

Under Boris Johnson ‘s strict new measures, groups of more than six can be broken up by police who will be able to hand out £100 fines to those who flout the rules. This will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200. Pictured: London Bridge  

Britons have promised to run riot and enjoy one last knees-up with friends before Boris Johnson ‘s stringent new coronavirus restrictions come into force on Monday 

Britons have promised to run riot and enjoy one last knees-up with friends before Mr Johnson’s stringent new coronavirus restrictions come into force.  

Many are having to cancel parties after warnings of a rapid increase in infections among people in their teens, 20s and 30s – but fears have risen that some will take the weekend as an opportunity to run wild despite the ongoing pandemic.

A senior officer said they were not sure if police had the resources to meet the challenge of thousands of people ignoring restrictions this weekend.   

Chairman of the Police Federation in West Yorkshire, Brian Booth, added officers were ‘flat out again doing the everyday things such as dealing with stabbings, shootings, drug dealers, missing people etc’. 

‘If we are going to be asked to focus on enforcement, something else will have to give,’ he said.      

The Government’s new ‘rule of six’ will be introduced on Monday amid fears coronavirus infections in England could be doubling every week with a reproduction ‘R’ rate as high as 1.7.

Mr Hancock yesterday insisted the increased infection rate justifies the Government’s latest restriction, warning people ‘the pandemic is not over’.    

As hundreds of Britons enjoyed a final weekend of freedom on Friday, police bosses urged people to look after each other and avoid a ‘party weekend’ before the restrictions are implemented. Pictured: Revellers in Nottingham

Yesterday, officers told the Telegraph they fear Britain will resemble the ‘last days of Rome’ after this weekend amid a storm of decadent planned pre-lockdown parties 

People gather at the Southbank Skatepark in Waterloo, London ahead of the new rules, which ban groups of more than six

The latest measure introduced to tackle the spread of coronavirus comes as a Government-led study yesterday suggested the reproduction ‘R’ rate could be as high as 1.7 in the UK. Pictured: Southbank on Friday

Experts who have been swabbing tens of thousands of people in England during the crisis found an estimated 13 people per 10,000 were infected between August 22 and September 7, compared to four people per 10,000 between July 24 and August 11.   

The scientists behind an Imperial College London REACT-1 study said the findings showed the epidemic is doubling in size every ‘seven to eight days’. By comparison, Covid-19 infections were increasing by twofold every three days at the start of the crisis. 

The Department of Health confirmed on Friday another 3,539 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and six more people have died. The new diagnoses are the highest since May 17.

And data from the Office for National Statistics suggests 3,200 people are getting sick every day in England and Wales – a surge of 45 per cent from last week’s prediction of 2,200. 

The number of people testing positive may be higher because they were not all tested on the same day and test results take time to process, meaning they are not evenly distributed. 

Hundreds of people enjoyed a Friday night on the town in the pubs and bars in Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth, Hampshire

A group of girls gather in the street in Portsmouth to enjoy a late-night takeaway ahead of the ‘rule of six’ coming into force 

Elsewhere in the city, dozens of revellers were seen standing closely together as they waited to enter a busy club on Friday

The Imperial findings were published as the Government prepares to impose its new ‘rule of six’ social gathering restriction from Monday which outlaws groups of seven or more people from meeting up indoors and outdoors.

Mr Hancock said on Friday: ‘The pandemic is not over, and everyone has a role to play.

‘It’s so important that everyone abides by the law and socialise in groups up to six, make space between you and those outside your household, get a test and self-isolate if you develop symptoms and wash your hands regularly.’ 

Mr Johnson is hoping the rule will help to get the virus back under control but there is a growing Tory backlash because while children will be exempted in Scotland and Wales, they will be subject to the restriction in England in a move which critics argue will make many family reunions impossible. 

Senior Conservatives have labelled the rule ‘absolutely grotesque’, accusing the Government of an unacceptable assault on personal freedom and liberty. They have also criticised ministers for imposing the measure without any debate or vote in Parliament.

The rule was agreed at a meeting of the Government’s coronavirus strategy committee earlier this week but a string of senior ministers were opposed to it.  

People in Manchester sit outside ahead of the introduction of new coronavirus rules on Monday

Others in the city gathered near to a wine bar as they enjoyed a night out with their friends

A group of women head for a night out in Manchester before the new rules kick in on Monday

Elsewhere in Manchester, groups sat together as they enjoyed a pint outside a bar in the city centre last night

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the spike in infections justifies the Government’s new rule of six, warning people ‘the pandemic is not over’. Pictured: Manchester

Announcing the tightening of restrictions at a No10 briefing on Wednesday, Mr Johnson suggested the ‘rule of six’ limit on how many people can socialise together will be in place for some time to come, after partying among the younger generation fuelled a sharp rise. 

Apart from a vaccine, he said the only other way out before Christmas was a ‘moonshot’ of introducing mass daily testing for everyone, but admitted that would require ‘everything to come together’.

The Prime Minister said infection rates among 17 to 18 year-olds and 19 to 21 year-olds the numbers had gone up ‘really quite steeply’ since mid-August. 

In a direct plea to young people, Mr Johnson said that they should consider their behaviour ‘for the sake of your parents’ and your grandparents’ health’.  

The limit is a dramatic reduction on the maximum of 30 put in place on July 4. 

It comes as Birmingham became the latest city to be hit with new draconian lockdown rules yesterday after the number of coronavirus patients being admitted to hospitals in the city doubled in a week. 

From Tuesday, more than 1.5million people in Birmingham and neighbouring Solihull and Sandwell will be banned from mixing with anyone outside of their own household in private homes, pubs, restaurants or in gardens. 

The Prime Minister said infection rates among 17 to 18 year-olds and 19 to 21 year-olds the numbers had gone up ‘really quite steeply’ since mid-August. Pictured: Nottingham last night 

From Monday, it will be illegal to assemble in groups of seven or more anywhere in England, whether indoors or out. Pictured: Manchester

 

The move follows two days of crunch talks between the Government and local health leaders after Birmingham’s seven-day infection rate rose to 78 cases per 100,000. 

It’s difficult to compare Birmingham’s current case rate now to levels at the height of the pandemic because there was a lack of widespread testing during the first wave – meaning thousands of cases went missed and never appeared in the data.

From Tuesday, more than one million people in Birmingham will be banned from mixing with anyone outside of their own household. The rules will also apply to 500,000 people in neighbouring Solihull and Sandwell, where there have been sudden and significant rises in infections

 

Dr David Rosser, chief executive at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, said hospitals in his city were seeing twice the amount of patients as last week. He warned the virus was on ‘an exponential curve’ in the city and he expects admissions to double again in seven days. 

Seven people are fighting for their lives in intensive care with the disease and 68 are on wards at the Queen Elizabeth and Heartlands NHS hospitals, according to local reports. And more than 800 people tested positive for the virus in the last week, meaning many could be just days away from needing hospital care.  

West Midlands mayor Andy Street, announcing the rules in the West Midlands this afternoon, said: ‘The following areas will now be escalated to an area of national intervention, with a ban on people socialising with people outside their own household.

‘The ban will take effect from Tuesday, September 15, but residents are advised to avoid household mixing before then as it has been identified as one of the drivers of transmission.’ He added the bans applied to the whole of Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull.

‘This decision has been made in collaboration with local leaders who are considering additional local measures to tackle the increase in the number of cases. So to emphasise, this is about mixing between households, it is not about prevention of schools, workplaces, transport, any of the other options – it is about household mixing.’ 

The Leader of Birmingham City Council Ian Ward said there had been a steep rise in the number of new infections occurring at social gatherings and in private homes – as was also the case in other hotspots like Bolton, Leicester, and parts of Scotland, Wales and North West England. 

A man attempts to move his friend along as he speaks with a police officer on the streets of Cardiff on Friday night

A man grapples with police and security outside a bar in Cardiff on the last weekend before ‘rule of six’ laws come into force

A large group of women are seen on a night out in Cardiff, just days before such gatherings will be banned under new laws

Official PHE figures show Birmingham’s case rate was less than 30 per 100,000 by the end of August but this has soared to 78 per 100,000 in less than a fortnight

Health Secretary Matt Hancock echoed the councillor’s comments about social gatherings being the route cause of increased infections in the West Midlands, adding: ‘We will not hesitate to take further action if needed.’  

Meanwhile Liverpool city region has been included in the Government’s coronavirus watch list due to a rising number of infections there.

Kettering, Oadby and Wigston and Luton have been removed from the watchlist after transmission fell in these regions. Leeds also avoided further Covid-19 restrictions as it was announced the city will instead receive enhanced support towards managing the rise in infection rates.

Elsewhere, in Lanarkshire, Scotland, lockdown measures were tightened due to a rise in local coronavirus cases.  Restrictions on visiting other households will apply to both North and South Lanarkshire council areas from Saturday.

The move comes after 205 positive cases were identified in the region in the past week.

The restrictions, which will be reviewed in seven days, are the same as those currently in place in Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘It is clearly regrettable that these restrictions need to be extended to people living in Lanarkshire.

‘I understand that this will not be welcome news for people living in these areas, especially ahead of the weekend, but we must act now to protect people and get more control over the virus in the area.’   

Save our children’s Christmas! Covid crackdown poll shows Britons want under-12s to be exempt from draconian rule of six – as Tory backbenchers savage ‘grotesque’ restriction 

Voters and Tory MPs last night urged Boris Johnson to rescue Christmas by exempting children from his ‘rule of six’.

A Daily Mail poll showed more than four in ten support a U-turn on the policy, letting grandparents see their families over the festive season. Tory backbenchers savaged the ‘grotesque’ restriction which, from Monday, bans groups of seven or more in a bid to halt a second wave of coronavirus.

In Scotland and Wales such gatherings are also outlawed – but children under 12 are exempt. Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, called on Mr Johnson to follow suit.

Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said the rule was unsustainable.

Downing Street is refusing to back down, even though young children are much less likely to catch or spread Covid-19. Officials said an age threshold would make enforcement too difficult for police officers.

The Mail revealed yesterday that the rule was introduced following a row in Cabinet. On Thursday Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said under-12s would be freed from her version of the rule of six north of the border.

A new Daily Mail poll has shown that the public has lost faith Boris Johnson’s government with only Rishi Sunak showing a positive approval rating

Boris Johnson is determined to push through with his policy which will jeopardise Christmas celebrations in England 

The row intensified yesterday when Mark Drakeford, first minister of Wales, said he would do the same.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We decided it was not proportionate to include young children who are not vulnerable to coronavirus, or to spreading it in the way that adults are, so therefore we are not including them.’

But Downing Street said: ‘We looked at all of the evidence in advance of the decision that was reached on Wednesday and it was decided to proceed with a rule of six that applies to all ages.

‘What we have done is ensure that the rules have been simplified and strengthened so they are easier to understand. Social distancing measures can only be effective if the public understand them and abide by them.’

Sir Graham said exempting young children was sensible and would help families wrestling over which relatives to see over Christmas.

He added: ‘These are the kind of issues which would be drawn out in a parliamentary debate and it shows why it is wrong for the Government to set rules in an arbitrary way, without parliamentary scrutiny.’

The survey found that 41 per cent of voters say the PM should exempt youngsters, compared with 32 per cent who disagree. It also shows that a third of families have had their plans for Christmas disrupted by the rule of six. 

Three quarters believe that most people will ignore the limit anyway.

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