There is growing evidence that the UK government has lost control of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as the number of cases increased while people are returning to work and universities get ready to reopen.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has been asked to deliver an urgent statement to explain the surge in new cases and why some people have been asked to go hundreds of miles to have a test.
On Sunday, nearly 3,000 people in the UK tested positive for COVID-19, the highest daily total since May.
Former NHS Regional Director of Public Health Prof. Gabriel Scally said, “They’ve lost control of the virus. It’s no longer small outbreaks they can stamp on. It’s become endemic in our poorest communities and this is the result. It’s extraordinarily worrying when schools are opening and universities are going to be going back.”
It has been found that the majority of new cases were among younger people with milder infections than older people.
NHS England reported more than 2,500 new cases on Sunday and 2,988 in the UK overall.
Prof. Christina Pagel of the University College London said, “It’s a massive jump. There is no way you can look at these figures and feel confident that things are going in the right direction.”
The surge in new cases came amid concerns that testing centers have been struggling to cope with demand. Many people in the UK are asked to drive more than 100 miles to get the test done because the local centers did not have enough capacity.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said many people approached him in recent days for tests. He said he had been offered tests in Scotland and Leicester.
“The fact people are being directed to bizarre locations is yet another example of national test and trace not working,” Burnham said, “That’s why it needs to be under local control.”
“The danger is someone who is symptomatic in Greater Manchester, where many areas are still classed as high risk, tries to book a test, gets directed to Leicester and thinks ‘sod that’ and then potentially passes on the virus. It is so obvious that the system should always offer you a test at your local center, it should keep you within your geography,” he added.
Hancock said the surge in new cases was “concerning” but said, “workplaces should still be operating safely.”
He told Sky News, “The cases are predominantly among younger people but we have seen in other countries across the world and in Europe this sort of rise in the cases among younger people leading to a rise across the population as a whole. So it is so important that people don’t allow this illness to infect their grandparents and to lead to the sort of problems that we saw earlier in the year.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jon Ashworth said ministers should immediately get a grip on the government’s failings.
He said the increase in coronavirus cases was “deeply concerning,” adding, “This increase, combined with the ongoing testing fiasco and the poor performance of the contact tracing system, needs an explanation from ministers.” Ashworth continued, “Last week Matt Hancock was boasting of his ‘moonshot’ plan to test millions of the population every day but he can’t even get basic testing delivered for people who are experiencing symptoms.”