A lag between case numbers and deaths means Britain’s fatalities have remained relatively low, according to one of London’s top scientific advisers
Meanwhile, Germany recorded its highest number of cases since April and South Africa disbanded its scientific advisory committee on the coronavirus
could be moving too slowly to tackle the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, a government adviser said on Saturday, as
recorded its highest number of cases since April and
disbanded the government’s scientific advisory committee on the coronavirus.
A lag between case numbers and deaths means Britain’s fatalities have remained relatively low, Graham Medley, a professor of infectious disease modelling who attends the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) which advises government, told BBC Radio on Saturday, adding he worried the country could end up in a position it had tried to avoid.
“My concern is the lag, is the fact that we end up in a position that we didn’t intend to, either government or the population … because the numbers of deaths at the moment look very low, even though, as scientists, we say look infections are increasing,” he said.
“And unfortunately that lag means that we don’t act soon enough.”
British Prime Minister
has imposed tougher restrictions in the last week to try to curb the spread of the virus, telling people to work from home if they can and ordering pubs and restaurants to close earlier.
Some politicians have questioned whether those measures go far enough however, with the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, telling households they also cannot mix indoors. Britain was slow to impose its first lockdown in March.
Medley said SAGE had not discussed what impact the policy of closing hospitality services earlier would have on infection rates.
Britain already has the highest death toll in Europe from the pandemic, at 41,936. While around 900 people died a day at the April peak, current death rates are around 30.
The Office for National Statistics said on Friday new cases in England had shot up to around 9,600 per day in the week to September 19, up from around 6,000 the previous week.
Medley said that meant deaths would rise in three to four weeks to around 100 deaths a day. “And the things that we do now will not stop 100 people dying a day, but they will stop that progressing much higher,” he said.
Meanwhile, Germany recorded its highest number of new Covid-19 cases since late April on Saturday. Though with 2,366 new infections in one day, the number is well below the additional cases reported by some other European countries.
After the start of the new school year in Germany, around 50,000 students are currently in quarantine,
reported, citing a survey of local authorities.
Elsewhere, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on Saturday authorised the country’s provinces to impose lockdowns wherever necessary to stem a rapid rise in coronavirus cases.
“We are forced to intensify regulations and supervisions,” starting in the capital Tehran, Rowhani said in televised remarks.
He said government-run coronavirus task force offices around the country would make recommendations on restrictions and whether to impose one-week lockdowns.
’s death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 25,000 and identified cases on Friday totalled 439,882, according to the health ministry.
Also on Saturday, South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize disbanded the government’s scientific advisory committee on the coronavirus, some of whose members have openly disagreed with state measures to tackle the disease.
Members of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 were advised by letter this week that the group is being reconfigured, Francois Venter of the University of the Witwatersrand, and Glenda Gray, chief executive officer of the South African Medical Research Council, confirmed by text message on Saturday.
The disbanding follows Mkhize’s announcement on Sept. 14 that he would reconstitute the committee, News24 reported, citing the one-paragraph letter.
The 51-strong committee, headed by Salim Abdool Karim, was created earlier this year to advise Mkhize on how to handle the pandemic.
Some members of the council, including Gray and Venter, disagreed with the government’s decision to curb economic activity in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. Gray’s criticism of some of the measures as “unscientific” in May prompted Mkhize to accuse her of lying and led to a spat between the government and the academic community. Venter and Shabir Madhi, another MAC member who heads up the South African arm of a vaccine trial, have also been critical.
South Africa recorded 668,529 cases and 16,312 deaths as of Friday, giving it the largest number of infections in Africa. More than 4.1 million people have been tested, out of a population of 59 million. The rate of coronavirus infections has slowed markedly over the past month.
The Health Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.