Professor Carl Heneghan, who led the new analysis at the University of Oxford, said many of the new hospital cases could be elderly people who had been admitted for other conditions.

“I think this shows it’s too early and too hasty to reach for more restrictive measures. We’ve got a lot of measures in place already,” he told The Telegraph. “Once you start to get into the data, it’s not as simple as cases rising or hospitals admissions rising. This shows there is a significant problem with healthcare-acquired infections.”

Prof Henghan’s analysis derives from a new data stream released by the NHS which denotes when hospital inpatients first tested positive for Covid-19 – either before admission, upon admission or seven days or more after admission.

Those testing positive for the first time a week or more after arriving are assumed to have caught the virus in hospital.

Since September 15 – the first day since spring on which there were more than 150 admissions – and September 30 there were only three days when hospital-acquired cases amounted to 10 per cent or more of inpatient Covid cases.

However, the proportion has stayed above 10 per cent from September 30 to October 6.

“This indicates that we should be thoughtful and analytical,” said Prof Heneghan. “We should wait to see what happens over the next week. We might find the measures we have got in place are having an effect, but we run the risk of losing the trust of the population if we rush in hastily with more measures.”

Watch Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer clash at PMQs over further measures:

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