Coronavirus and the West Country - how is the region faring as 50,000 new daily cases predicted

Covid testing centre in Exeter

As Government scientists warn of the potential of 50,000 new Covid cases a day - just how is the West Country looking?

The Prime Minister is spending the day talking to key advisors and the political leaders of the devolved nations about how best to react to the emergence of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

It marks the start of a key week in our fight against the virus - with Boris Johnsons's top scientists, Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance, briefing the country on the current trends of the virus.

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance said there could be as many as 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October.

The conference started with a grim warning that number of cases are doubling each week, and that means there is a chance they could approach 50,000 a day by mid-October.

It is clear that there has been an increase in the rates of infection across the UK in the past few weeks, and the West Country is no exception in that. There has been a steady (but largely small) increase in the number of reported cases since the end of August.

A central part of the presentation by the scientists were two maps of England looking at infection rates throughout the pandemic and, more crucially, the infection rates in the past seven days.

The geographical spread of Covid-19 in England from data collected by Public Health England.

This slide was shared by the scientists at the Downing Street briefing and, just like earlier this year, it looks like the infection rates in the West Country (left hand map) are still broadly lower than other regions.

The increase in rates (right hand map) is also slower in the West Country than some other parts of England.

The right hand map is the one that ministers will be analysing as they decide what - if any - new restrictions need to come into force across the country.

The light blue areas, which include Gloucester, Torbay, Swindon and East Devon, are areas where the virus rates are either level or declining slightly. In all the brown areas there is an increase in rates of the virus, the darker the brown the higher the increase - with North Somerset showing the highest increase in rates in the West Country in the last week.

Plans are expected to be laid out to 'circuit break' the current rise in infections.

Boris Johnson is expected to outline his plan for the coming weeks on Tuesday 22 September after a day full of meetings today.

He has been clear that he wants to avoid a full scale lockdown if at all possible and allow schools to stay open and people to go to work.

However, a major concern for the scientists, is how the virus seems to be passed on in social settings, either in our own homes or when out in restaurants, bars or pubs.

Under consideration seem to be stricter rules on who can come to our homes, and also on the hours that pubs can be open or even if they are asked to shut all together for a few weeks.

It is thought this could act as a 'circuit breaker' and help the country regain control of the virus.

Downing Street is keeping quiet on the exact thoughts of the PM, but has said that 'everything is under review'.

What is clear is the next few days are crucial in the country's fight with the virus, infection rates are up, hospital admissions are increasing and scientists fear an increase in deaths could come too.

There is a high chance we will see limits on our social lives, even for just a few weeks, by the end of the week.