The UK has recorded a massive jump in Covid infections for the second day running, with 22,961 cases confirmed up to 9am on Sunday.
The “alarming” figure, released by the The Department for Health and Social Care late on Sunday night, includes almost 16,000 cases from days last week not previously recorded.
It means the country has now seen more than 500,000 lab-confirmed cases in total.
The massive spike comes after the government blamed a technical glitch for a similarly huge rise of 12,872 on Saturday, having recorded around 6,000 most days last week.
The new amended figures, which come after it was claimed there was a “levelling off” of case numbers, mean that by September 30 the country there were more than 10,000 daily infections across the country.
DHSC confirmed that Sunday’s daily figure includes 15,841 additional cases logged between September 25 and October 2, but not included because of the same technical issue.
The official dashboard said Sunday’s data is “therefore artificially high for England and the UK”.
Labour has branded the late logging of cases as evidence of a “shambolic” test and trace service and has demanded health secretary Matt Hancock explain what happened in a statement to parliament.
“This is shambolic and people across the country will be understandably alarmed,” shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said.
“Matt Hancock should come to the House of Commons on Monday to explain what on earth has happened, what impact it has had on our ability to contain this virus and what he plans to do to fix test and trace.”
The government also said a further 33 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday. This brings the UK total to 42,350.
It is likely to fuel calls for another national lockdown, with many fearing the second wave is taking hold at a fast pace.
Public Health England provided a breakdown of how many cases were not included in each day’s figures:
– 957 cases on September 25, when the original figure given was 6,874
– 744 on September 26, when the original figure given was 6,042
– 757 on September 27, when the original figure given was 5,693
– none on September 28, when the original figure given was 4,044
– 1,415 on September 29, when the original figure given was 7,143
– 3,049 on September 30, when the original figure given was 7,108
– 4,133 on October 1, when the original figure given was 6,914
– 4,786 on October 2, when the original figure given was 6,968
Test and trace and Public Health England joint medical adviser, Susan Hopkins, said anyone who had tested positive in the days affected by the backlog would still have got their results earlier.
She said: “Our analysis now shows that this issue affected a total of 15,841 cases from the period between 25 September and 2 October, with the majority occurring in recent days. This means the total number of positive cases over this period was higher than previously reported.
“Of these, over 75% (11,968) relate to cases that should have been reported between 30 September and 2 October.
“This issue did not affect people receiving their Covid-19 test results and all people who tested positive have received their Covid-19 test result in the normal way.”
On Friday, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) confirmed the “R-rate” of Covid-19 had spiked again to between 1.3 and 1.6.
The reproduction number, or R value, tracks coronavirus transmission across the UK, with any value above 1.0 indicating that the pandemic is growing.
Last week, the R number was between 1.2 and 1.5.
An number between 1.3 and 1.6 means that “on average every 10 people infected will infect between 13 and 16 other people”, SAGE said.
The R value is estimated to be at its highest, and as high as 1.6, in the North East and London, followed closely by the North West.
“Over the next few weeks, it will be important that we understand this in the UK and do not become complacent,” the spokesman for SAGE added.