UK coronavirus live: intensive care in Greater Manchester month away from being overwhelmed, No 10 claims

The number of confirmed cases of Covid at the University of Oxford has more than tripled in a week with almost one in four tests proving positive.

The total number of positive cases in the week ending October 16 was 197, compared with 61 cases during freshers’ week, the week before.

There have now been 288 confirmed Covid cases since the university testing service began on August 20, out of a total of 2433 tests, the university confirmed.

The university says it is now in stage two of its emergency response framework which requires social distancing on site and allows a combination of face-to-face teaching and online learning.

On Saturday students were criticised for failing to observe social distancing rules as they gathered to celebrate matriculation. The formal ceremony was moved online but students were pictured gathering at the Radcliffe Camera.

At least 115 universities in the UK have now had Covid cases, according to UniCovidUk which is tracking infections in higher education.

The Radcliffe Camera library building in Oxford.

The Radcliffe Camera library building in Oxford. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Pupils in England sitting GCSE and A-level retakes this autumn will enjoy the same “generosity” in the awarding of grades as the summer cohort, the exams regulator Ofqual has confirmed.

Following the cancellation of summer exams as a result of the pandemic, students who were unhappy with their results – and private candidates who were not issued with a grade – were given the opportunity to sit back-up exams.

According to Ofqual, there are 20,000 A-level entries for this autumn’s resits (compared to 700,000 during the summer) which are currently under way, with GCSE resits to follow next month.

This summer saw a significant hike in results after the government was forced to scrap its flawed algorithm and pupils were given school-assessed grades.

In a new blog, Ofqual said it was “working with exam boards to carry forward the generosity from summer 2020 grades”.

Ordinarily, exam boards adjust grade boundaries to ensure consistency in the distribution of results year on year. The autumn results will however be aligned with the summer results to ensure fairness, Ofqual said.

The regulator said it would publish further details about next year’s exams later in the year.

No 10 claims intensive care capacity in Greater Manchester less than month away from being completely overwhelmed

Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru leader, has said the Welsh government needs to use its two-week firebreak to make its test and trace system more effective. In a statement he said:

A fire break is a last resort and should only be used in an emergency. We are now in an emergency.

The time the firebreak buys us must be used to build up a resilient test, trace and isolate system in Wales which means we can prevent being in the position we’re currently in where the case numbers have risen to the point where they can overwhelm an already exhausted NHS.

We also need to ensure the safeguarding of workplaces, and that sufficient financial support is available for businesses and their employees who will be directly impacted by this firebreak.


Covid rates starting to fall in some of England’s big cities, latest figures suggest



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