Politics

Second lockdown, new rules and who is to blame – your Covid questions answered


There have been 352,560 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK and 41,586 deaths, according to official government figures.

Separate figures show there have been 57,400 deaths where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate.

Here we answer all your coronavirus questions, including if there will be a second wave, what the new restrictions are and more.

What are the new restrictions?

It will be illegal in England from Monday to gather in groups larger than six, indoors or outdoors.

The government had previously allowed up to 30 socialise together.

Any group larger than six risks being dispersed by police or fined. People who disobey will face £100 fines, which will double on each subsequent occasion up to £3,200.

Weddings, funerals and team sports will be excluded from the updated restrictions.

Gatherings of more than six will be banned from Monday

Work and educational meetings are also allowed, and people with a household or support bubble of more than six can congregate.

Are we headed for a second wave?

Medical experts are worried we could face a spike. New infections hit nearly 3,000 on Monday, the highest number since May.

NHS Trusts in England have started making preparations for a surge in cases. Health chiefs fear a second wave is inevitable but believe with the right measures in place they can stop it being as bad as the first outbreak.

We will be able to see our families at Christmas?

Family gatherings at Christmas are under threat due to coronavirus rules

This depends on how severe the spike is. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the restrictions will be for the “foreseeable future” but “hoped” they would be removed in time for Christmas.

Will there be a second national lockdown?

This is unlikely. Boris Johnson is desperate to avoid a lockdown because of the economic damage it could cause. Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost due to Covid restrictions, especially in the retail, hospitality and aviation.

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A second nationwide lockdown would place even more jobs at risk. The first lockdown also created a backlog of cases the NHS is only just starting to tackle.

The Government would prefer to persist with localised restrictions such as those seen in Leicester and parts of Greater Manchester.

What’s the situation with bubbles?

Support bubbles are unaffected by the new rules. Once you form a bubble, you can’t switch to creating a new bubble with a different household. People in each bubble can stay in each other’s homes and do not have to socially distance. They count as one household.

Can I see five different people from different households one day then five different people from different households next day?

There appears to be no rules on how many groups of bubbles you can meet

There is nothing in the rules about keeping to an exclusive group of five at each different gathering.

However, it stands to reason that the more people you see the more likely you are to contract the virus.

So while you wouldn’t be breaking the law, it might not be wise or in the spirit of the rules.

Can you play five-a-side with friends in the park?

No. Organised team sports are exempt from the new law. So a properly-arranged fixture between two club sides is OK. Getting 21 mates together and putting down jumpers for a kickabout is not.

Can you go to work, play football with work colleagues afterwards and then go for a pint with them?

Yes, as long as there are never more than five other people in your group at the social events.

What has gone wrong with Test and Trace?

Baroness Dido Harding launched the Test and Trace system

The “world-beating” system promised by Boris Johnson has been dogged by problems. Firstly, people in England are being told to travel hundreds of miles to get a test.

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This has been caused by problems at labs processing the tests and the decision to prioritise at-risk groups. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it could take a “couple of weeks” to resolve this backlog.

Secondly, the NHS Test and Trace system has repeatedly failed to hit its target of reaching 80% of those in close contact with a Covid carrier.

Data for the week ending August 26 showed of those close contacts provided by people who recorded a positive test, only 69% were reached. This fell from 77% the previous week.

How important is Test and Trace?

Countries which introduced test and trace regimes at the start of the outbreak have seen fewer deaths.

It is cited as why South Korea, with a population of 51million, has reported 341 Covid fatalities.

Test and trace means health officials can track the spread of the virus, order those in contact with carriers to isolate and identify those who are asymptomatic – people but not showing any symptoms.

A fully functioning testing regime would also give people the reassurance to return to workplaces.

The Department of Health says it now has the capacity to test “at an unprecedented scale.”

Are young people to blame for the increase in cases?

Children returned to school this month

People aged from 20 to 29 accounted for a third of all Covid cases in England last week. And with universities returning this month there are fears this could rise further.

Young people are more likely to socialise and more likely to use public transport and share accommodation.

Some scientists say young people should be allowed to get on with their lives as their risk of dying from Covid is low. Others fear they could pass on the virus to elderly relatives.

Do we still think colder weather will affect the rate and why?

Yes. Evidence suggests all viruses survive outside the body better when it is cold. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies says a temperature of 4C (39F) is particularly good for Covid-19. Coronavirus’ spread is hampered by sunlight, but there is much less in winter. People suffer more from seasonal colds and coughs in winter. Until they are tested they maybe unable to tell between a common cold and Covid-19 – potentially spreading it without realising.

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Why don’t we test everyone coming into the country rather than telling them to self-isolate?

Travellers from certain countries must quarantine when they return

The practicalities of testing make this difficult. Also, ministers say a first test at an airport may miss 93% of cases. Transport chiefs dispute this and want passengers tested on arrival and up to eight days later – while they have been self-isolating.

Is there any chance there will be a vaccine soon?

The best we can realistically hope for by the end of the year is that potentially reliable inoculations have completed big trials. England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said there is a “reasonable chance” a vaccine will be ready for the 2021-2022 season.

What is the R Rate?

A rate of 1 means an infected person transmits the disease to one other. A rate below 1 means the virus is dying out; a rate above 1 means it is spreading. England’s “R” rate is between 0.9 and 1.1 with regional differences.

How much worse has it got over the past six months?

Drivers get tested for coronavirus

The UK recorded its first Covid-19 death on March 2. On March 23, the number passed 1,000 and the PM announced a national lockdown.

Eight days later, the total passed 5,000. At the end of May, the virus was killing 891 people per million.

However, as treatments were found, such as dexamethasone, and doctors became better at caring for victims, the death rate fell.

The proportion of hospitalised Covid-19 patients dying each day in England fell from 6% to 1.5% between April and June. Yesterday NHS England reported just eight deaths, with victims aged between 43 and 92.

There are other possible reasons why fewer are dying. Many who fell ill in the first wave were old and sick. Now, many more young people are proportionally affected. But if they go on to infect more vulnerable people, the death rate could rise.





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