England's COVID-19 infections doubling each week - Imperial College study

LONDON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - The spread of the coronavirus is speeding up across all parts of England with the number of cases doubling about every week, according to a new study by Imperial College, which will fuel concerns that renewed restrictions may need be introduced.

The infection rate is rising in all age groups apart from those over 65, and cases are no longer clustering in hospitals or care homes as they were a few months ago, suggesting the virus is circulating more widely, Imperial found.

The study, which involved testing more than 150,000 volunteers, found 13 per 10,000 people were infected in England in the two weeks ending Sept. 7, compared to 4 per 10,000 in the same period ending Aug. 11.

The signs of a new wave of infections emerged as people returned to offices and schools after the summer vacation.

Matt Hancock, the health minister, urged people not to jeopardise hard-won gains made against the virus during a two-month lockdown earlier this year.

“The pandemic is not over, and everyone has a role to play to keep the virus at bay and avoid further restrictions,” he said. “We’ve seen all across the world how a rise in cases, initially among younger people, leads to hospitalisations and fatalities.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions on social gatherings, saying there was a clear need to act.

From Monday, gatherings of more than six people will be banned in England, after the number of new coronavirus infections across the United Kingdom has edged up to around 3,000 a day, from less than a third of that number a month ago.

The United Kingdom has suffered more than 65,000 excess deaths from coronavirus, according to the government’s statistics office, with a surge that lasted longer and spread to more places than those in other hard-hit European nations like Italy and Spain.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison