Up to 10,000 people a day are contracting Covid-19 in Britain, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said, adding that the number is still fewer than the “100,000 per day” estimated during the spring peak.
The statement came after recorded infections rose by 6,178 overnight, the highest daily spike in coronavirus cases since May 1.
The government estimates that “it is under 10,000 people a day getting the disease,” Hancock told Sky News on Thursday. “That’s too high but it is still much lower than in the peak,” he added.
“The massive testing capability we’ve got helps to find where the virus is,” the secretary noted. He added that the government can “do the contact tracing for everyone who has tested positive and find who they’ve been in contact with.”
Every person who downloads the NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app will be helping “make the country a safer place,” according to Hancock. “Even if only two people download the app and they came into close contact, and one tested positive, then it would work for the other.”
The smartphone app was launched in England and Wales on Thursday, four months after the technology was announced. The app allows users to trace contacts, check the local level of risk and record visits to venues such as pubs – but many people question its effectiveness.
The app is being offered as Britain braces for a second wave of infections. Daily case numbers are rising at rates not seen since the peak of the pandemic and, in many areas, the testing system is unable to cope with demand. Scotland and Northern Ireland have launched their own contact-tracing apps.
Meanwhile, Hancock did not rule out the possibility that university students would have to stay away from home over Christmas amid coronavirus concerns. “We don’t rule out anything. It’s not something that I want to do,” Hancock told BBC on Thursday.
Speaking about the economic side of Britain’s coronavirus crisis on LBC Radio, Hancock said that the finance minister will provide as much support for jobs as possible when he announces his economic winter plan later in the day. “What you can be assured of is that we’ll put in as much economic support to help people get through this as feasibly possible,” Hancock added.
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