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After almost a week of falling case numbers, there are tentative signs that the spread of COVID-19 in the UK is starting to slow.

Reported cases, which include tests from a number of days previously, point to a decline in infections. But numbers based on tests conducted in the previous 24 hours do not show as clear a picture.

So, what does the data tell us about the state of the pandemic in the UK?

The picture varies across nations. While Scotland saw case rates apparently peak in early July, other parts of the UK have only just begun to see infections fall over the past few days.

The chart below shows new cases based on the day someone tests positive and the data from 19 July is subject to change.

Colin Angus, senior research fellow at the University of Sheffield, says that part of this divergence could be explained in part by Scotland’s early defeat in the Euros.

He said: “In Scotland this effect seems to have fizzled out after they were knocked out of the tournament in the group stages, while for England we are still seeing the after effects of it in the data now.”

The earlier start to the summer holidays could also explain the lag between case rates in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

But even in Scotland the data is unclear. A randomised community survey by the ONS estimates that one in every 80 Scots had COVID-19 in the week ending 17 July compared with one in 90 the week before.

Dr Simon Clarke, an associate professor at the University of Reading, said: “It’s too early to read too much into the ordinary test data – we’ve seen ups and downs before and it’s longer-term trends that matter.”

Why could case rates be falling?

One reason that cases could be falling is the start of school holidays in England, as children are often asymptomatic and are not required to get daily tests outside of term time.

But data shows only a moderate drop off in lateral flow tests in recent weeks. Meanwhile, PCR tests, which account for the vast majority of the system, continue to increase.

Another factor that could be driving infection rates is the number of people in self-isolation, which increased to more than 600,000 in the week ending 14 July.

Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor in the School of Medicine, University of Leeds, said: “The ongoing coverage of the so-called ‘pingdemic’, unhelpful as it has been, actually reflect the fact that, in response to a large surge of infections, a great many people have been asked to self-isolate recently and this could have a direct impact upon transmission.”

Is the regional picture any clearer?

In England, case rates appear to be falling across most regions among 10 to 29-year-olds, but the trend is most pronounced across all age groups in the North East and North West.

Despite the rampant spread of COVID-19 in these regions, case rates among the elderly remained low, raising the question of whether vaccines have suppressed infection in older populations.

At the peak for the North West in January, there were more than 950 cases per 100,000 over-90s, compared with just 102 in the latest wave.

But University of Sheffield’s Colin Angus says that he is not convinced that the outbreaks have fizzled out because the virus has run out of susceptible people to infect.

He said: “If you look at Bolton and Blackburn, the original hotspots in the Delta wave, you can see that cases didn’t really fall back that far and the outbreak has continued to rumble along there in the past month or so, seemingly under the radar.”

Whatever the trends, experts warn that any decline in cases could be short-lived.

The return of schools combined with less outdoor socialising in the autumn is likely to lead to a surge in infections. In addition, it is still too early to gauge what impact lifting England’s remaining restrictions on 19 July will have on case numbers.

Dr Clarke said: “As things stand, we really don’t have any data for the effect of what’s happened on 19 July. It should put upward pressure on infection numbers, as should any measure which allows people to mix more.”


The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.

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Teenage neo-Nazi who planned suicide bomb attack on synagogue jailed for eight years

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Teenage neo-Nazi who planned suicide bomb attack on synagogue jailed for eight years

A sixth form student from Brighton who drew up plans for a suicide bomb attack on a local synagogue has been jailed for eight years for terrorism offences.

Mason Reynolds, 19, from Moulscoomb was a student studying bricklaying and roofing and doing part-time labouring work on the side.

He lived with his parents and was described as leading “in many ways, a not untypical existence of a young man in his late teens”.

However, Naomi Parsons, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court that Reynolds was a neo-Nazi who believed the white race was “destined to dominate the rest of mankind”.

She said Reynolds “does not find himself here because he has political, racial or ideological views that some may find distasteful or indeed abhorrent”.

“He is here because he has not just held those political, racial and ideological views, he has acted on them.”

When Reynolds was arrested, police found a note on his phone created on 7 May 2023 entitled “Enough Larping” – a call to action that referred to ending his “live action role play”.

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The note included a 13-second video from Google Maps showing the exterior of Hove Synagogue, and Reynolds had listed its address and the CCTV cameras and fire exits.

He added: “Possible buzzer to get into the building, 1 camera on left side (side entrance locked by gate).”

On another image he had marked “quickest and efficient way in”, adding: “Could be good for surprise attack.”

Hove Hebrew Congregation Synagogue in Holland Road.
Pic: Wikimedia
Image:
Hove Hebrew Congregation Synagogue. Pic: Wikimedia

Reynolds had attached images of synagogues in Missouri and Washington in the US and in Edinburgh as “examples of what to expect inside”.

Underneath he had written: “The Jewish holidays that tend to have the most people in synagogues are Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover.”

In June, Reynolds produced an image on a video app called CapCut with the words “Make Jews Afraid Again”.

Later on the same day, a discussion took place on Telegram with another teenager using the sign-on AR15 – a reference to an assault rifle.

Reynolds told him: “I wanna strap multiple pipe [bombs] to my chest and blow myself up inside a synagogue… I have a plan.”

Without identifying his target, he told the other user: “They won’t let me through the buzzer door if suspicious, like Stephan Balliet” – a reference to a German-born neo-Nazi who used homemade weapons to kill two people, after failing to get into a synagogue in Halle, Germany, in October 2019.

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Police also discovered Reynolds had copies of the Mujahideen’s Explosives Handbook, the Terrorist’s Handbook, and the Anarchist Cookbook on his computer, along with files used to make a 3D printed assault rifle called the FGC-9.

Reynolds was one of two administrators for the “Far-Right Sigmas” channel on the Telegram app, a neo-Nazi propaganda channel which was set up in late November 2022 by “AR15” in Poland.

The channel promoted the view that society was in decay and the fault lay with Jewish people who controlled the financial institutions, the media and encouraged immigration, resulting in the “dilution” of the white race.

The channel had nearly 350 subscribers and produced content that glorified Nazis including Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and Heinrich Himmler, leader of the Waffen SS, as well as far-right killers including Anders Breivik, Brenton Tarrant, and Dylann Roof, who killed nine black people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“It hoped, it seems, to create neo-Nazis of the future,” Ms Parsons said.

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One of the clips circulated by Reynolds featured Stephan Balliet, who livestreamed his attempted attack with homemade rifles and bombs.

Speaking of Tarrant, who livestreamed an attack that killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Reynolds commented: “It’d be 10x better seeing Jews get killed.”

In the channel’s chatroom, Reynolds also distributed videos of the Christchurch attack, and Breivik’s attack in Norway in 2011, which killed 67 people.

Much of the material on the channel was edited from propaganda produced by an organisation called Atomwaffen Division, a US based terrorist organisation banned by the UK government in July 2021.

Reynolds pleaded guilty to four offences of possessing material useful for terrorism and five offences of distributing material likely to encourage terrorism. He was found guilty of possessing an article for terrorist purposes.

After his arrest, Reynolds told police he was hurt that his friends viewed him as someone who was “all talk and no action” and wanted them to stop calling him a “LARP” – live action role player.

He had written the note in 15 minutes, forgot to delete it and thought no more about it, he said.

Jailing Reynolds for eight years with an extended licence of five years, Mrs Justice May accepted that he did nothing to carry his plan and that his “secret life” was now out in the open.

But she said she considered him “dangerous” and added: “These ideas are immensely attractive, to young men in particular, and while only a small fraction of those who hold these beliefs act on them, the consequences are catastrophic as history has shown.”

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Anglesey: Plane crash-landed in back garden after ‘engine failure’

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Anglesey: Plane crash-landed in back garden after 'engine failure'

A plane was “destroyed” in a crash-landing in a back garden after it suffered “engine failure”, according to a report into the accident.

The 50-year-old pilot was taken to hospital by air ambulance following the incident where the aircraft ended up on a housing estate in Anglesey.

The Aerosport Scamp had recently undergone a major restoration and it was the pilot’s fourth journey in the aircraft, the Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) said.

He fractured his wrist and suffered some minor injuries, including a minor head injury, despite wearing a helmet for protection.

No one else was injured in the incident earlier this year.

The plane crash-landed in the back garden of a property on the Cae Bach Aur Estate in Bodffordd, near Llangefni, on Saturday 10 February and was “destroyed”.

North Wales Fire and Rescue was called to the scene at 1.44pm as well as North Wales Police.

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Steve Davies, who lives next door to the house, said at the time he heard a noise “like an engine misfiring and cutting out”.

The report into the incident found there had been a partial loss of power shortly after the plane took off from RAF Mona in Anglesey.

Full power was briefly regained before the aircraft stalled and then the engine stopped, with the cause of the power loss not identified.

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The pilot, unable to reach the airfield or a field he could land in, carried out a forced landing into some trees at the back of a housing estate.

The plane slid down from the trees and came to rest on its right side in a garden.

The pilot’s “prompt recognition and response to the aircraft’s stall” meant there was a “less severe outcome”.

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In its conclusion, the report could not determine the cause of the engine failure.

Contributory factors to the accident were given as “a challenging decision-making process” and “the pilot’s inexperience” with the type of aircraft.

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Dr Michael Mosley’s last interview before his death released

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Dr Michael Mosley's last interview before his death released

Dr Michael Mosley’s last interview before his death in a mountainous area of the Greek island of Symi last week has been released.

The interview was recorded less than two weeks before the TV doctor went missing while on holiday with his wife Clare on 5 June.

His body was found five days later in a rocky area of the island.

Doctor and broadcaster Chris van Tulleken described Dr Mosley as “one of the most important broadcasters of recent decades” as he introduced the last interview conducted by the late TV doctor.

Dr Van Tulleken said he wanted audiences “to reflect on his style, dryly witty, modest, humble”.

In the interview, recorded at Hay Festival in Wales on 25 May, Dr Mosley asked psychology professor Paul Bloom for his top tips to be happy.

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The mayor of Symi told Sky News that the body showed no signs of injury

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Dr Mosley, known for appearing on programmes like This Morning and The One Show, talked about the benefits of doing uncomfortable things such as taking cold showers.

“I cannot say it is a moment of bliss,” the presenter said in the interview, broadcast in “There’s Only One Michael Mosley”, a special episode of his regular BBC Radio 4 programme.

“It’s normally followed by a lot of screaming… actually what I do is I sing really loudly which my wife really hates but it gets me through it and then afterwards I sort of feel good about it.

Dr Michael Mosley with wife Clare. Pic: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Image:
Dr Mosley with wife Clare. Pic: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

“But despite the fact that I know I’m going to feel better afterwards, it is still every time a challenge to turn it on to full cold because I know it’s going to hurt.”

Dr Mosley is credited with popularising the 5:2 diet, a form of intermittent fasting, through his book The Fast Diet which he co-authored with journalist Mimi Spencer, and later advocating for The Fast 800 diet, which follows a “moderately low-carb, Mediterranean-style diet”.

In 2002, he was nominated for an Emmy for his executive producer role on BBC science documentary The Human Face, and he also ingested tapeworms for six weeks for a 2014 documentary called Infested! Living With Parasites on BBC Four.

In the interview, Dr Mosley also discussed with Professor Bloom the benefits of finding “some way where you’re not constantly thinking about the past, present and future”.

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The mayor of Symi told Sky News that the body showed no signs of injury

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Dr Mosley also discussed how he once filled in a personality test which involved both self-reporting and a brain scan.

Once the results of the scan came in, he said he was told he was “a bit of a psychopath. Is that a good insight, is that going to help me in any way to lead a richer and fuller life?,” Dr Mosley asked.

The professor replied quoting author Jon Ronson as saying “if you’re worried that you’re a psychopath, you’re not a psychopath”.

Dr Mosley first trained as a doctor before moving into the world of broadcasting, presenting a host of science programmes and films on the BBC including the series Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, which looked at healthcare in Britain.

A second special will look at how he transformed people’s lives and was an executive producer following him working on the shows Pompeii – The Last Day; Krakatoa Revealed; Life Before Birth, and Supervolcano.

It will air on BBC One on Friday at 8pm.

Dr Mosley’s wife, Dr Clare Bailey Mosley, paid tribute to her husband last week, describing him as a “wonderful, funny, kind and brilliant husband” and saying it was a comfort to the family he “very nearly made it” to safety.

She said he appeared to have undertaken an “incredible climb, took the wrong route, and collapsed where he couldn’t be easily seen” by search and rescue teams.

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