The government has resisted calls to implement its Covid-19 winter ‘Plan B’ measures, despite warnings over rising cases.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that the pressures on the NHS have not yet reached a level where stricter measures are needed, including the return of mandatory face masks and work-from-home guidance.
The decision not to enforce stricter rules comes despite warnings that Covid-19 cases could soar up to 100,000 per day this winter, with health experts saying it is still “uncertain” about what will happen over the coming months.
The government chief scientific adviser said there is still a lot of variability at the moment, but warned that waning immunity and behavioural changes are two key factors that could affect the rate of infections.
Sir Patrick Vallance told the Today programme: “There is considerable uncertainty into which direction this goes.
“It’s wrong to think that the build up of immunity is an all or nothing – it’s a sort of protective barrier that will reduce the spread of the virus so we need to monitor this carefully over the next weeks and months.”
Sir Patrick reiterated the importance of getting a booster dose heading into winter, as this will help to keep immunity levels high among the most vulnerable.
The NHS has been making great progress with its booster campaign, with more than half of those who are eligible in England taking up the offer of a third dose so far.
While the booster programme is seeing a positive uptake, infections are still continuing to rise across the country.
Latest government figures show that 255 (68%) of the 377 local areas in the UK have seen a week-on-week rise in rates, while just 122 (32%) have seen a fall.
But which parts of the UK are the worst affected at the moment? Listed are the 15 areas with the highest coronavirus case rates right now per 100,000 population, based on the latest data up to 22 October. Images are for illustrative purposes only.