In recent weeks the Government has been urged to respond to rising coronavirus cases, particularly in northern England. But in a televised press briefing today (Monday, October 12) medical experts said rising coronavirus cases are being recorded across England nationwide.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said cases have “picked up the pace” in northern England but increased cases is a “nationwide phenomenon”.
He said: “The epidemic this time has clearly picked up pace in the North of England earlier than it did in the first wave and that almost certainly relates to the fact the disease levels in the North, and certainly in the North West, never dropped as far in the summer as they did in the South.
“But pretty much all areas of the UK are now seeing growths in the infection rate and that extending brown map that I showed you, which is sourced from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, absolutely makes that point.
“This is a nationwide phenomenon now that rates are changing upwards across the UK.”
READ MORE: When will new lockdown rules begin?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a new three-tier lockdown system later on Monday.
The severity of lockdown restrictions in areas will be dependent on whether the spread of coronavirus is deemed as medium, high or very high.
Many areas in the North East and North West are recording very high rates of transmission presently, and are likely to face tier three restrictions.
Although the Government has not yet explained the restrictions for each tier, it is likely tier three areas will face business closures – particularly in the hospitality sector.
It was announced on October 12 that three NHS Nightingale hospitals have now been put on stand-by to deal with further cases of coronavirus.
NHS England’s Professor Stephen Powis said at the Downing Street briefing the NHS is preparing for a second wave by increasing hospital capacity.
Professor Powis announced the Nightingale hospitals to start preparing for patients are in Harrogate, Manchester and Sunderland – all of which are located in regions where covid cases are currently considered very high.
He said: “To protect our staff and our patients we will be introducing – with tests provided by the Test and Trace service – regular testing for staff in these high-risk areas, even when they don’t have symptoms.
“This will help us keep staff and patients in those hospitals as safe as possible.
“Secondly, we have asked the Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate to prepare for this next phase.
“They are being asked to mobilise over the next few weeks to be ready to accept patients if necessary.”
The Nightingale hospitals could be used for covid patients over the coming months, but they may also be used to increase capacity for medical services not related to COVID-19.