Britain’s COVID-19 infection rate doubles in last week

Quote: ‘A month ago the UK’s infection rate was less than half that of France and the USA – and a quarter of Spain’

By Andrew Atkinson

Britain’s per capita coronavirus infection rate has doubled in the last week – and is now higher than France, Spain and America.

New daily coronavirus cases per million people, calculated as a seven-day average, was 228 on October 8, up from 92 on October 3.

The UK’s COVID-19 rate was almost level with the European average for months – until the rapid increase a week ago becoming the third worst-hit major country in Europe after the Netherlands, with 282 cases, and the Czech Republic with 418.

The figures are based on European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data.

The figures are a dramatic change in fortunes from a month ago – with the UK’s infection rate standing at less than half that of France and the USA, and a quarter of Spain’s.

Many European countries are experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 cases – spikes – following the initial pandemic lockdown in March.

The average number of new cases per capita has more than doubled across the continent since September 10. In the UK it has risen more than sixfold.

The coronavirus figures are dependent on how many people are being successfully tested in each country.

Britain had the third-highest testing rate in Europe in the past week, according to the ECDC.

The percentage of tests that were positive have followed a similar path in England relative to other western countries, according to analysis of Our World in Data and NHS figures by the Financial Times.

Just over 8 per cent of tests were coming back positive in England; approximately 9 per cent in Spain and France; 5 per cent in the USA and 4 per cent in Italy, data provided on the days for which the most recent data was available.

Authorities in France have forcing six major cities to close their bars after a rise in coronavirus cases.

Spain’s heavy second wave has started to subside without major new restrictions. A 1am curfew has been in place for months. A partial lockdown was announced in Madrid on October 7, which came into force after cases began to fall again.

In the Netherlands, western Europe’s Covid ‘hotspot’, politicians are still fighting over whether mask-wearing should be made mandatory in public. The government advises their use in indoor public places.

Tests have also had to be limited to those with serious health issues, due to slower-than-expected increases in capacity.

PM Boris Johnson is expected to announce a three-tier local lockdown system in England on Monday (October 12) after coronavirus outbreaks hitting northern England and parts of Wales.