Coronavirus infections have soared again as experts estimate 1 in 130 people in England had the virus in a single week.
The Office for National Statistics estimates between 407,500 and 459,300 people in the community had the virus at any point in the week to October 16.
That is up from between 312,000 and 362,000 people the previous week.
When it comes to new cases, today’s figures estimate there were around 35,200 new cases per day in England’s community (29,800 to 46,600) in the week to October 16.
“There has been growth in COVID-19 infection rates in all age groups over the past two weeks including those aged over 70 years, with the current rates highest in older teenagers and young adults,” the ONS said.
“The highest COVID-19 infection rates continue to be seen in the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, and the North East.”
The figures are a sharp rise on last week’s infection survey.
The previous estimate suggested there were around 27,900 new cases per day in England (22,700 to 38,000) in the week to October 8.
That had meant about one in 160 people had coronavirus at any one time during that week.
The data on cases come from the ONS’s Infection Survey Pilot, which is seen as the most reliable measure of how coronavirus is spreading in the community.
Unlike regular testing figures, it uses a formula to estimate the total incidence of coronavirus – regardless of whether people have tested positive or not.
That means it is much higher than other estimates of the spread of the virus.
It also looks only at the community, so excludes places like hospitals, care homes and other “institutional” settings like prisons.
The survey originally looked at England but has recently been expanded to all four nations of the UK.
The number of infections in Wales has increased and around 1 in 180 people had Covid-19 in the most recent week.
Around 1 in 100 people in Northern Ireland and 1 in 180 in Scotland were estimated to have the infection.
It comes after the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor warned England could now be seeing 53,000 to 90,000 new coronavirus cases per day.
Sir Patrick Vallance presented stark new modelling from Tuesday that suggests cases could be far higher than those yet found in testing or ONS estimates.
Speaking at a No10 press conference, Sir Patrick presented the model on new infections per day from SAGE sub-group the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M).
He said: “The modelling consensus suggests that between 53,000 and 90,000 new infections per day may be occurring.
“And obviously with that number of infections, you expect an increase in hospitalisations as well.
“The number of infections overall across the country continues to increase.”
Four regions of England are in talks about entering Tier 3 lockdown – Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire, Warrington, and the North East – including both Tyneside and the Tees Valley.
Talks with the North East were “paused” earlier this week but last night the Department of Health said they were back on.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick is understood to have written to local leaders in the North East last night, although no formal fresh talks have yet been held.
Meanwhile all or part of Nottinghamshire could enter Tier 3 lockdown within days as talks ramp up between local leaders and the government.
Health Minister Nadine Dorries held talks with MPs this morning and a further meeting is due with council leaders this afternoon.
It comes after hospital chiefs in Nottingham postponed some non-urgent surgery as patients rise by almost a whole ward per day.
This morning’s meeting with Nottinghamshire was about health data, and did not present MPs with a final plan for a Tier 3 lockdown.
MPs expect a formal move to Tier 3 could come next week, while the Nottingham Post reports it could be announced on Monday.
One MP in this morning’s meeting told the Mirror “it’s pretty clear they think we need to go into Tier 3”, but “there’s still a live discussion” about where exactly might have it imposed.