Almost 100,000 Brits are getting infected with Covid-19 every day, according to a new study with a senior Government minister admitting rates are in a “bad place” all over the country.

The REACT-1 project - which has been swabbing tens of thousands of people every week - concluded about 96,000 are people getting infected every day in England.

And the study warned infections are doubling every nine days, suggesting there could be 200,000 daily cases by the first week of November. 

Imperial College London experts behind the research warned cases are now just weeks away from surpassing levels seen during the height of the pandemic in March and April. 

Previous projections have estimated there were slightly more than 100,000 daily cases in spring, which led to more than 40,000 deaths in the first wave. 


According to the research, 1.3 per cent of everyone living in England was carrying the disease by October 25, the equivalent of one in 75 in the population, or 730,000 people.

It has led to warnings that coronavirus restrictions in England are “not sufficient”.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick admitted coronavirus rates are in a “bad place” all over the country but added that the Government is resisting another national lockdown.

He said: “We will continue with our localised but proportionate approach on taking action where the virus is strongest, but you can see from those figures that the virus is in a bad place in all parts of the country.

“The approach of trying to bear down on it where it is most concentrated, I think, continues to be the best way forward because despite the fact the virus is rising across the country it is very concentrated in some places nonetheless.”

Mr Jenrick said the Government’s “very firm view” is that a short national “circuit-breaker” lockdown would be the wrong approach, saying “you can’t have a stop-start country”.


But Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London, said the data from the React study suggests “we need to think about changing the approach”.

Asked if this meant tightening local lockdowns or national restrictions, he said: “I think what our study shows is there would be genuine benefits to some kind of national policy.

“In that we could prevent the pattern in the South turning into the current pattern in the North and bring about a reversal in the North as quickly as possible.

“If we’re going to end up using those restrictions that have been brought in elsewhere in Europe today and yesterday… we should think about timing. And sooner is better than later for these.

“There has to be a change. The rate of growth that we’re seeing in these data is really quite rapid, so one way or another there has to be a change before Christmas.

“We’ve fairly reliably measured a slight decrease in R (reproduction number) in our interim round five, now we have measured a slight increase in R, and the slight increase in R means that current measures are not sufficient.”

Government scientific adviser Dr Mike Tildesley has said more national restrictions are needed, with the current trajectory likely to put nearly everywhere in Tier 2 before Christmas.


The University of Warwick researcher, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), added: “We are seeing the R number is greater than 1 everywhere, and in a sense some kind of national lockdown, a circuit-breaker, or something along those lines, would actually have more effect in those parts of the country that have not yet progressed into Tier 2.

“R is greater than 1 everywhere and if we don’t take urgent action we’re most likely to see that as we’re approaching the festive period we’re probably going to be at least in Tier 2 pretty much everywhere in the country.

“So really we need to move away from these regional firefighting techniques to try to move to something more national.”

Dr David Strain, clinical senior lecturer and honorary consultant at University of Exeter Medical School, questioned the rule of six.

“The rule of six is fundamentally flawed – it allows people to spread the virus around multiple households completely legitimately.

“Yet this is permitted indoors in Tier 1 and outdoors in Tier 2. All of these mean the virus is still growing.”

Dr Strain said a national lockdown or circuit-breaker can only be effective if there is a “sensible exit strategy”, adding: “I do believe the local approach is likely to be a better way forward. Currently the focus is very much on controlling the outbreaks in Tier 3.

“More focus should be placed on maintaining Tier 1 regions in Tier 1. These areas, after all, are currently maintaining the economy.”

Meanwhile, the Government is reportedly considering the rapid unrolling of saliva-based coronavirus kits in a bid to test up to 10 per cent of England’s population every week.

According to reports, NHS Test and Trace is stepping up its efforts to meet the targets set out in the Government’s Operation Moonshot plans announced last month.

The testing programme would focus on regions under the highest level of restrictions, and would mark a significant increase on current capacity of 2.1 million conventional nose and throat swabs a week.