A MAN being tested for coronavirus had to go to hospital after accidentally swallowing the entire swab stick.
It comes as infection rates are rising across the country for the first time since March — with cases doubling every week.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Every ten people with the virus are currently passing it on to 17 others, putting the crucial “R-rate” at 1.7 when experts want it under one.
Six more deaths were logged yesterday along with 3,539 new cases — up 21 per cent on the previous day and the highest number of infections in four months.
And Birmingham became the latest city where locals are banned from mixing with other households at home or in the garden.
Cases are now highest in Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and the North West.
At Hull Royal Infirmary a man turned up saying he had “inhaled” a 6in plastic stick and cotton bud of a swab stick.
The bud is used to swab fluid from the back of a person’s throat.
The new 1.7 figure is the result of the largest study of its kind carried out by Imperial College London. Public health officials put it at between one and 1.2 but their figures lag behind.
Last night Prof Paul Elliott, from Imperial’s School of Public Health, warned: “Cases are growing quickly across England and are no longer concentrated in key workers.
“What we are seeing is evidence of an epidemic in the community and not a result of increased testing capacity.”
Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at Reading University, added: “It’s likely that coronavirus is circulating more freely out in the community again, meaning we are likely to need greater restrictions to push the transmission rate back down.
“If the R number is as high as 1.7 we could be at risk of being almost back at square one in terms of our ability to contain the virus.”
The total number of Covid infections now stands at 361,677.
What does the R rate mean?
The R rate refers to the average number of people that one infected person can expect to pass the coronavirus on to.
Scientists use it to predict how far and how fast a disease will spread – and the number can also inform policy decisions about how to contain an outbreak.
For example, if a virus has an R rate of three, it means that every sick person will pass the disease on to three other people if no containment measures are introduced.
It’s also worth pointing out that the R rate is a measure of how infectious a disease is, but not how deadly.
Government sources said the fact rates were snowballing to levels last seen in the weeks before the national lockdown was an urgent “wake-up call”.
Unless spread slows dramatically, further lockdowns measures could soon be imposed nationally — including curfews, pubs and restaurants only selling takeaways and total bans on visiting other households.
The Government is planning to fine anyone breaching self-isolation rules, according to reports last night.
The move would put people told to stay at home by track and trace teams on the same footing as holidaymakers who come back from virus-hit destinations. They can be fined up to £1,000 for breaking quarantine.
We will likely to need greater restrictions to push the transmission rate back down.
Dr Simon Clarke
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the infection surge, fuelled by partying youngsters, justifies new laws limiting social gatherings to just six people.
He insisted: “The pandemic is not over, and everyone has a role to play. It’s so important everyone abides by the law.”
The Imperial College scientists found infections have rocketed in all ages under 65 in recent weeks, with 18 to 24-year-olds most likely to test positive.
But last week infections increased 92 per cent among those in their 50s, according to reports.
The rise among the 60s was 72 per cent and for the 80s 44 per cent.
That had triggered a 20 per cent increase in hospital admissions among those aged 60-75, a 72 per cent hike among 75 to 84-year-olds and a 67 per cent rise for those 85 and over, a Public Health England source said.
Office of National Statistics figures show 3,200 people per day were newly infected between August 30 and September 5, up from a 2,000 daily between August 19 and 25.
And the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies estimates the R-rate is above 1 in all regions for the first time since mid-March.
Around 1.5million people will be affected by the local clampdown in Birmingham and neighbouring Solihull and Sandwell boroughs from Tuesday, West Midlands mayor Andy Street revealed.
But he pleaded with residents not to stampede to others’ homes this weekend.
‘WE NEED A TARGETED APPROACH’
He said: “Residents are advised to avoid household mixing before then as it has been identified as one of the drivers of transmission.”
Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said the sharp rise in cases there was not limited to any particular ethnic group.
He went on: “The spread appears to be primarily occurring through social interactions, especially private household gatherings, and workplaces where social-distancing is not being observed.”
Local Labour MP John Spellar agreed the Government needed to take action. But he added: “It is an error to have done it right the way across the conurbation, rather than a targeted approach to deal with particular areas.”
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.