Great Britain

MPs believe scale of coronavirus second wave is being ‘greatly exaggerated’

THE true scale of March’s coronavirus peak in Europe was ten times the current second wave, experts claim.

Around 300,000 are suffering from the disease now across the continent but they believe three million caught it in one week in the spring.

Mass testing for the deadly virus is far more advanced than earlier in the outbreak, meaning its genuine spread was never really known.

Just 200,000 cases were confirmed back then despite the huge death toll.

That news came as daily infections in the UK rocketed past 7,000 for the first time — the biggest 24-hour rise so far.

It is a 77 per cent increase in a day, from 4,044 positive cases to 7,143.
Coronavirus deaths reported on Tuesday were also the highest since the start of July, with 71 fatalities — double that of a week earlier.

Health experts said the spike in positive tests is “sobering” news — but it is set against the new data compiled by the Economist from all of the 27 EU countries.

This shows 300,000 cases across the continent currently, from a total population of 480 million.

It also shows new treatments are making the virus less deadly with survival rates increasing from 66 per cent in March to 84 per cent in August.

Their revelation gave ammunition to Tory MPs and experts who believe the scale of the second wave is being greatly exaggerated.

They insist ministers should be cautious about implementing more draconian measures.

Tory MP Henry Smith said: “We need to get better balance and perspective over the impact of the second wave. It is one tenth the size of the first.

“While it’s important to have measures to mitigate against the spread, the numbers and the total proportion of the population affected is minuscule.

“My concern is the damage to other health conditions and the economy will cause far more harm than Covid-19 during its second reduced wave.”

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “This goes to show there is ‘group-think’ in the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, where scientists are in a bidding war for who can sound the most frightening.

“The figures don’t bear out what they are saying. The key to this is we test more so we know more — but it doesn’t mean to say that the figures now show we are where we were in March.

“These latest figures show we are at a tenth of the level in March.

“As US President Roosevelt once said, and Sage scientists should think about this, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’.”

World Health Organisation special envoy Dr David Nabarro also advised against imposing stringent rules.

He said: “This war, and it’s reasonable to call it a war, against this virus is not going to be won by creating tougher and tougher rules that attempt to control people’s behaviour.

“The only way that we will come out ahead of this virus is if we are all able to do the right thing in the right place at the right time because we choose to do it.

“I think we will get the point, I just hope that it doesn’t require a lot more people to end up in hospital and dying for us all to get the point, that all of us have to be rigorous about physical distance, wearing masks, hygiene, isolating when we’re sick and protecting those who are most vulnerable.”

Britain’s health officials also agreed the latest figures are not comparable to the peak because of the limited testing in April and May. Experts estimate the true number of UK cases then was closer to 100,000 a day.

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said: “If the 7,000 positive cases reported are distributed across age groups, we can expect a few tens of deaths to result and, perhaps, 100 or more with long lasting complications.”

PM Boris Johnson struggles to clarify if people in North East can meet in a pub garden under new coronavirus restrictions

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