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Wave of lockdown regulations ‘on the way’ as cases soar

MORE lockdown restrictions for Britain’s worst-hit towns and cities are being lined up after a fresh surge in coronavirus cases and deaths.

Pubs and restaurants could be closed and half-term holidays extended in an effort to keep schools open for longer, said the expert whose forecasts led to the national lockdown in March.

The warning came as Britain recorded 14,542 more infections in 24 hours, and the death toll rose by 76 to 42,445.

An estimated 18million people across Britain are already living in areas under local lockdown restrictions on movement and public gatherings.

And Nottingham is expected to be made subject to tougher rules later this week, similar to those in Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester.

The city council has already asked people to avoid mixing with other households, following a surge in cases.

Prof Neil Ferguson (pictured), whose modelling led to the national lockdown, said extra measures may be needed across the country before long.

The Imperial College expert, who quit the government’s Sage advisory board in May after it emerged he had broken the social distancing rules, said pubs may have to shut to keep schools open.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We are in a more difficult position — if we want to keep schools open we have to reduce contacts in other areas of society by more.

‘You will have heard measures being discussed such as extended half terms where we try to reduce transmission for a concerted period.’

He added the NHS risked becoming overwhelmed as deaths, hospital admissions and beds occupied by Covid patients doubled every two weeks.

The fatality rate remains much lower than at the pandemic’s peak but has begun to accelerate.

There were 234 deaths mentioning Covid-19 registered across the UK in the week ending September 25 — 49.4 per cent up on the previous week’s 158. The worst area for infections is Manchester, where 2,927 new cases were recorded in the seven days to October 2 — 529.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Knowsley and Liverpool have the second and third highest rates, at 498.5 and 487.1 respectively, while there have also been hefty jumps in Newcastle, Nottingham and Leeds.

Meanwhile, NHS Test and Trace staff are still trying to get hold of thousands of people who could be unwittingly spreading the virus after an IT glitch.

The Excel spreadsheet problem meant no attempt was made to trace the contacts of 16,000 patients who have tested positive. Just under two-thirds of the patients have now been contacted and asked for a list of people they have seen, Downing Street said.

Last night MPs voted retrospectively 287 to 17 in favour of a motion backing the government’s ‘rule of six’ regulations in England, after some had complained over failure to consult them.

A group of 12 Tory MPs rebelled, including Peter Bone, Sir Graham Brady and Esther McVey.

NEARLY one in five state secondary schools was unable to fully open last week. Around 82 per cent were open to all pupils last Thursday — a drop from 92 per cent on September 17. Most class closures were for Covid-related reasons, the Department for Education said. Meanwhile, teaching unions want GCSE and A-level pupils to be prioritised for virus testing to reduce ‘ongoing disruption’ to their learning.