During Monday September 14 the number of care home residents reporting respiratory illnesses spiked to levels not seen since the end of April, during the height of the pandemic. The sudden rise is in stark contrast to the much lower figures reported throughout the summer months and will add to fears of a surge of COVID-19 during the winter months.
ITV’s political correspondent Paul Brand, who tweeted the chart, said: “The red bar below is hugely worrying.
“Look at the jump in respiratory illnesses in care homes in the past week in England.
“Not all will be COVID-19, but it triggers a terrifying sense of déjà vu”.
The data comes as the Government will spend the weekend deciding on whether to introduce new measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.
Millions of Britons, roughly one in five of the population, have been placed under tighter controls due to a surge in infections.
Twitter users reacted with fear to the chart and said the figures point to a looming crisis.
One person said if ministers would allow a repeat of the scandal, which saw COVID-19 patients discharged from hospital into care homes, it would amount to “manslaughter”.
They wrote: “And this time Johnson, Gove and Hancock can’t hide away and say no one knew.
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Professor Neil Ferguson said on Saturday that Britain is likely to need to reintroduce some national coronavirus lockdown measures sooner rather than later.
Prof Ferguson told the BBC the country was facing a “perfect storm” of rising infections as people return to work and school.
He said: “I think some additional measures are likely to be needed sooner rather than later.
“Right now, we’re at about the levels of infection we were seeing in this country in late February, and if we leave it another two to four weeks we’ll be back at levels we were seeing more back in mid-March, and that’s going to – or could – cause deaths.”
His warning comes after Mr Johnson on Friday said he did not want to go down the route of another national shutdown.
But he said additional restrictions may be required as the country was facing an “inevitable” second wave of COVID-19.
Ministers were on Friday reported to be considering a second national lockdown after new COVID-19 cases almost doubled to 6,000 per day, hospital admissions rose and infection rates soared across parts of northern England and London.
The R number – which represents the number of people an infected person will pass the virus on to – has risen to between 1.1 and 1.4 in the UK, according to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner have called for the Government to hold an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss ways to respond to the rise in infections.