Covid: UK daily cases rise to nearly 50,000 as Downing Street warns of ‘challenging months’ ahead

The public has been warned that the coming months will be “challenging” as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

The UK has recorded nearly 50,000 new Covid-19 infections, which marks the largest daily rise since lockdown rules ended in England three months ago.

There have been more than 40,000 new cases of Covid reported for six consecutive days, with 49,156 new infections on Monday (18 October).

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Government data up to Sunday (17 October) show more than 300,000 confirmed cases reported over the last seven days, a 15% increase on the previous week.

The 852 deaths reported from October 11 to October 17 was 8.5% higher than the figure for the previous seven-day period.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics on Friday (15 October) showed Covid infection levels in England are getting close to the peak seen at the height of the second wave, and are mostly being driven by rates among schoolchildren.

This comes as the public has been warned that the coming months will be “challenging” as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Downing Street said an increase in coronavirus cases had been expected over the winter and the Government would keep a “close watch” on the situation.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We obviously keep very close watch on the latest statistics.

“We always knew the coming months would be challenging.

“What we are seeing is case rates, hospitalisations and deaths still broadly in line with the modelling as set out a few months back now.

“The vaccination programme will continue to be our first line of defence, along with new treatments, testing and public health advice.

“But we will obviously keep a close watch on cases.

“But it is thanks to our vaccination programme that we are able to substantially break the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths.”

However, epidemiologist and government adviser Professor Andrew Hayward said the situation was “concerning” and there was “huge potential for the NHS to come under a lot of pressure”.

Prof Hayward, a member of the Sage scientific advisory panel, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: “I think it’s concerning that we’ve got very high rates of infection and higher rates of hospitalisation and mortality than many of our European counterparts.”