03.10.2022

Just FIVE more virus fatalities recorded in England and Wales last week despite cases having doubled

Covid deaths in England and Wales remain below 25 per day despite infections having almost doubled over the past month, Government data shows.

Advocates of No10’s strategy, which saw the final pandemic-era restrictions axed in April, have hailed the figures as more proof that the darkest days of the pandemic are over and that new economically-damaging curbs aren’t needed.

Yet critics of the approach have already called for a return of mask wearing and for Brits to avoid meeting indoors because of the virus’ resurgence.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released today show there were 166 Covid deaths registered across the two countries in the week ending June 24. This was barely a change on the 161 logged in the previous seven-day spell.

For comparison, this is just a fraction of April’s toll, when cases soared to pandemic highs and deaths peaked at 740.

The figures don’t reflect the total number of deaths because they look specifically at fatalities due to the virus, as opposed to ones where Covid may have contributed. Although, even when including these deaths which ‘involve’ the virus, the toll is still only 285 — barely a quarter of levels seen earlier in the year.

And the impact of the current surge in infections may not be felt for another fortnight, given how long it takes for the infected to become seriously ill.

This graph shows the number of deaths directly due to Covid recorded in England and Wales. The number of deaths being recorded these nations currently is far below that of previous waves earlier year and a sheer fraction of those seen at the start of 2021.

Intensive care admissions have also failed to spike so far despite the recent surge in cases, although they have crept up above the 200 per day mark as of June 28

Wales pivots back to Covid panic-mode: Another hospital board reintroduces face masks in ALL settings due to rise in cases

Another Welsh health board has reintroduced face mask mandates in response to soaring Covid cases.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board yesterday announced all staff and visitors would now have to wear coverings in all settings again unless exempt.

Hospital bosses said the move was due to the ‘continuing rise in the prevalence of Covid’ in the community.

‘Please follow this guidance to help us reduce the impact of Covid on our patients, workforce and services,’ the announcement read.

‘In addition to wearing a face covering, it is important to continue to maintain social distancing where possible.’

It is the second Welsh NHS body to reimpose mask mandates for staff and visitors.

Wales, under the leadership of Mark Drakeford, has been quick to impose pandemic restrictions and slower to withdraw them than England.

Labour’s Mr Drakeford accused Boris Johnson — who was first to pursue the Living With Covid strategy — of ‘ignoring the science’ for refusing to reintroduce curbs at the start of the year.

As well as in Wales, hospitals in England have also started to bring back mask rules because of the spike in infections.

However, there has yet to be any noticeable uptick in intensive care admissions — bolstering the argument that sky-high immunity rates from vaccines and repeated waves have drastically blunted the threat of the virus, rendering it into something that resembles the flu.

Hospitalisations have, however, trebled over the past month, with roughly 1,500 virus-infected patients now being taken to wards every day.

Trust bosses fear Britain’s uptick, which shows no signs of slowing yet, will jeopardise efforts to tackle the record backlogs that built-up during the pandemic. Surging cases can trigger a rise in staff absences and pile extra pressure on hospitals because infected patients still need to be isolated.

Government advisers also fear the resurgence will eclipse April’s wave, when virus admissions spiralled to above 2,500-a-day. If that does happen, it means hospitalisations will hit an 18-month high.

NHS figures suggest only a fraction of these patients are primarily ill with Covid, however, in another sign of how vaccines have changed the course of the pandemic.

Roughly 2.3million Britons had Covid in the week ending June 24 — up by a third on the previous seven-day spell. Even though rates are climbing quickly, they remain a fraction of levels seen in past peaks.

BA.4 and BA.5 are thought to be even more infectious than their ancestral versions. However, they are just as mild.

Celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, half-term holidays and warm weather are also thought to be fuelling the latest surge. Some have also pointed to Britons mistaking Covid symptoms for hay fever.

Ministers have no plans to bring back any restrictions yet, although Boris Johnson has left the door open to future measures.

Infectious disease specialists, including members of the Government’s SAGE panel, are confident that the darkest days of the UK’s Covid battle are over.

Professor John Edmunds, an influential member of SAGE’s notorious modelling committee, said he was ‘not overly worried’ about the rising cases last month.

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist from Warwick University, told MailOnline today: ‘The hospitalisation figures show an increase but fortunately this is not translating into deaths.’

He added, however, that high infection levels could still produce challenges, especially for those most at risk from Covid.

‘Vaccination and the sheer levels of infection are providing overall protection but, faced with the continued threat of new variants, we do need to be conscious of the risk this poses to the elderly and clinically vulnerable,’ he said.

Covid infections have shot up in England to just over 1.8million according to the latest Office of National Statistics data

How dominant Covid variants in England have changed over time: The BA.4 and BA.5 (shown far right in pale pink and red) are have outstripped the formerly dominant BA.2 variant (sky blue). BA.5 is growing at a faster rate and will become the dominant strain, experts predict. The original Wuhan virus is shown in green (far left) which was replaced by the Alpha strain (purple) and Delta (pale turquoise). The original Omicron is shown in yellow and a very similar subvariant in pink from December

The soon-to-be dominant BA.5 variant has grown rapidly in the past two months. It accounted for just 3 per cent of overall cases in early May (shown left) but now makes up almost half (47 per cent) shown right

Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in infectious diseases from the University of East Anglia, said while it was too early to draw conclusions about the current Covid surge on deaths, the current data was encouraging.

‘Currently about three out of every 10,000 infections are dying, compared to 14 out of every 10,000 a year ago,’ he said.

He also said he was ‘almost certain’ the darkest days of the Covid pandemic were behind us.

‘When you look at people in hospital because of Covid or at deaths with Covid on death certificate the March/April wave saw fewer severe outcomes than the December/January wave despite March/April seeing quite a lot more infections,’ he said.

‘This is a trend that likely will continue.’

The ONS fatality figures, although still low, do show a slight uptick when looking at all Covid deaths.

A total of 285 Covid ‘involved’ deaths were recorded the week ending June 24, an increase of 21 compared to previous seven days. Deaths involving the the virus have been predicted to rise due to the spread of Covid in the community.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions for the virus, another key metric of the Covid pandemic, have also failed to dramatically increase in line with rising cases.

NHS England data shows there these were 223 of these patients, which are considered to the most severely ill with the virus, as of yesterday. This is an increase of 31 compared to the week prior but still well behind previous peaks this year. Over 700 ICU admissions for Covid were recorded per day across a 10-day period in January.

Infections in all four nations of the UK are rising, with levels in England back to where they were in late April, up to one in 18 people are infected in the worst hit parts of the UK.

The surge in cases has prompted Independent Sage to call for masks to be worn in public, more Covid jabs to be dished out as well as increased ventilation in indoor spaces.

Independent Sage, a group made up of far-left scientists and an active Communist party professor, previously heavily lobbied for a Christmas lockdown but quietly softened their stance after the milder Omicron wave subsided naturally and the NHS was not overwhelmed.

The ONS figures show one in 30 people in England about 3.35 per cent had Covid last week, with a similar percentage of Wales (3.49 per cent) also estimated to have the virus

Infections were highest in Scotland with one in 18 people (288,200) estimated to have the virus followed by Northern Ireland where one in 25 (71,000) were carrying the virus

The ONS figures show Covid  across all of England’s regions. Infections were highest in London at 3.7 per cent, followed by by the East of England, the North West, and the North East which recorded 3.6 per cent. This was followed by the South West with 3.5 per cent. The West Midlands (3.2 per cent)  the South East (3.1 per cent) and Yorkshire The Humber (3 per cent) all had Covid rates below the national average for England. The East Midlands recorded the lowest Covid infection rate in England of 2.8 per cent

In England Covid infections were most likely in people aged 50 to 69 (4.2 per cent), followed by 25-to-34-year-olds (4 per cent), and 16 to 24-year-olds (3.6 per cent). Infections were slightly lower in those aged 35 to 49 (3.5 per cent) and in the over-70s (3.1 per cent), 11 to 15-year-olds (2.3 per cent) and lowest in two to 10-year-olds (1.3 per cent)

Is YOUR summer holiday in danger of being ruined by Covid? Cases soar in France, Greece, Italy and Spain… as one expert says he’s already CANCELLED his break

Covid cases are on the rise in some of the UK’s favourite holiday hotspots, raising concerns of yet more travel chaos for millions this summer.

Spain, France and Germany are all currently logging a rise in infections, while outbreaks are growing bigger in popular Caribbean islands.

Sunseekers no longer need to prove they’re Covid-free and vaccinated to be allowed into many of the country’s best-loved destinations, who have followed Britain’s lead in ushering in the post-pandemic era.

Yet health chiefs on the continent — who are alarmed about the resurgence — have already called for a return of masks.

Experts told MailOnline travellers could easily face restrictions in their destination this summer, if officials feel the rise warrants action over the coming weeks. One revealed he had already cancelled his holiday break to Spain over concerns about rising cases, and was instead planning a camping trip within the UK.

Others warned Britain could be cut-off from international holidays if cases continue to surge. Lib Dem MP Layla Moran said that countries might feel the need to ‘reintroduce restrictions on arrivals from Britain’.

Dr David Strain (pictured), a senior clinical lecturer at Exeter University, told MailOnline that he has already scrapped his villa holiday in Spain for a UK camping staycation over concerns about the virus would wreak havoc on his travels

Wales pivots back to Covid panic-mode: Another hospital board reintroduces face masks in ALL settings due to rise in cases

Another Welsh health board has reintroduced face mask mandates in response to soaring Covid cases.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board yesterday announced all staff and visitors would now have to wear coverings in all settings again unless exempt.

Hospital bosses said the move was due to the ‘continuing rise in the prevalence of Covid’ in the community.

‘Please follow this guidance to help us reduce the impact of Covid on our patients, workforce and services,’ the announcement read.

‘In addition to wearing a face covering, it is important to continue to maintain social distancing where possible.’

It is the second Welsh NHS body to reimpose mask mandates for staff and visitors.

Wales, under the leadership of Mark Drakeford, has been quick to impose pandemic restrictions and slower to withdraw them than England.

Labour’s Mr Drakeford accused Boris Johnson — who was first to pursue the Living With Covid strategy — of ‘ignoring the science’ for refusing to reintroduce curbs at the start of the year.

Professor Martin McKee, president at the British Medical Association (BMA), told MailOnline that holidaymakers face a summer of uncertainty.

He said: ‘We can look at infection levels now but that doesn’t tell us where they will be when we actually travel.

‘Nor does it tell us whether it has hit the people who fly us to our destination or handle our bags.’

Professor McKee added: ‘We’re not out of the woods yet.’

However, Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that discrepancies between how nations test means differences in Covid rates are difficult to compare.

But he said he doesn’t expect nations — many of which are reliant on tourism, a sector which has been largely crippled by economically-damaging restrictions used during the pandemic — to bring in a swathe of curbs.

Professor Hunter said: ‘I really don’t which — if any — holiday destinations will change the rules. I doubt many holiday destination countries will make existing rules more restrictive.’

However, he noted that ‘there is an issue about staffing of airports and airlines if many staff are testing positive and so off work’.

When cases soared to pandemic highs in April, thousands of airport workers took time off ill, fuelling chaotic scenes in Heathrow and Birmingham airports.

Outbreaks across Europe are being fuelled by Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, which are thought to be even more infectious than the BA.2 strain that caused infections in the UK to spiral to a record 4.1million in April.

The two newer sub-strains have caused cases in England to more than double in the last month. Data from the Office for National Statistics show 1.8million people were infected in the week to June 24 — rising by a third in a week and marking the highest rate in two months.

Ms Moran told the Mirror that it is ‘possible that holiday plans will be ruined due to rising Covid rates in the UK’.

She said: ‘Other countries could reintroduce restrictions on arrivals from Britain and transport companies, already in crisis from the Government’s mishandling of Brexit and industrial action, are likely to see an increase in staff shortages with more people off sick with the virus and long Covid.’

Dr David Strain, a senior clinical lecturer at Exeter University, told MailOnline that uncertainty around whether restrictions will be brought in destinations, some nations requiring masks and the risk of catching Covid on the plane or on holiday will leave Britons weighing up whether jetting abroad is worth it.

He has already scrapped his villa holiday in Spain for a UK camping staycation over concerns about the virus would wreak havoc on his travels.

Dr Strain warned that around one in 20 people will be infected as they get on a flight and up to five in 20 could be carrying the virus when they land — which could scupper holiday plans.

He urged Britons to consider whether there will be Covid restriction when they arrive at their destination and questioned whether that is a holiday people really want.

Spain

Covid cases in Spain, the UK’s top holiday destination, are on the rise.

The nation logged 417 cases per million people each day in the week to July 1, up 61.6 per cent from a fortnight earlier when 258 people tested positive daily.

However, the figure is still a fraction of the rate seen at the January peak — when 3,081 cases were logged were logged per day.

Travellers aged 12 and over from the UK have to show proof of vaccination, a previous infection or a negative test on arrival.

But Health Minister Carolina Darias last week told local media that everyone in the country should start wearing a face mask when inside in public spaces, warning cases and hospitalisations are at their highest level since February.

France

Covid infections in France are the highest they have been since April and are continuing to rise. Some 1,639 people per million tested positive in the week to July 4.

Infection rates have spiked 78.2 per cent over the last fortnight, when just 920 infections were being detected per million people.

The nation’s health minister Brigitte Bourguignon last week said people in France have a ‘civic duty’ to wear masks in crowded places, such as public transport, workplaces and shops, to help control the outbreak.

She said: ‘I’m not saying it should be mandatory but I do ask the French people to put the mask on in public transport. I’m not merely advising it, I’m asking for it.’

Dr Alain Fischer, the country’s vaccination chief, last month warned France was in the middle of a new wave of infections and voiced his support for bringing back the requirement to wear face masks on public transport.

Portugal

Portugal, a favourite tourist hotspot among Britons, this week lifted all Covid entry requirements for travellers. As of July 1, arrivals in the country do not need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

The country’s Government noted that these measures ‘may be reviewed in accordance to the evolution of the pandemic’.

But cases in the country have been falling for a month. Some 869 people per million tested positive on June 30, a 44.2 per cent drop compared to the infection rate two weeks earlier.

And experts told MailOnline those planning to enjoy some sun in Portugal shouldn’t face much disruption to their plans.

Britons weighing up whether they should go ahead with their summer holiday plans should consider whether they will face restrictions when they arrive, Exeter University senior clinical lecturer Dr David Strain said.

Portugal is ‘unlikely’ to see a return of measures, such as face masks and social distancing, because they have just been through a wave fuelled by the BA.4 and BA.5 Covid strains, he said.

Germany

Covid cases are at a two-month high in Germany, with infections jumping 49.7 per cent in the last fortnight, from 715 to 1,070 positive tests logger per million people.

Britons arriving in Germany have not had to show proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus or a negative test to enter the country.

However, surgical FFP2 face masks are required on public transport.

And Chancellor Olaf Scholz this week warned that face masks ‘will play a bigger role’ in the coming months than they currently do.

Italy

Virus infections in Italy have soared to a five-month high in Italy.

Some 1,293 people tested positive per day in the week to July 4 — up 36.8 per cent in a fortnight.

Covid waves in the country have followed a similar pattern to that in the UK, with waves peaking in January and March before beginning to rise again in June.

Those landing in the country have not been required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test since June 1.  However, masks are required on public transport and those who test positive in the country must isolate for one week.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza this week told local media that ‘anyone who is infected must stay at home’, saying it was ‘unimaginable’ that the 650,000 isolating should be able to ‘move around’.

Greece

Greece is logging one of the highest infection rates in Europe, with 1,441 daily cases per million people in the last week — more the double the 681 logged two weeks ago. Infections are at their highest rate for three months.

Those arriving in the country no longer need display their vaccination status or a negative test. However, face masks are required on public transport, including on cruise ships, yachts and ferries used to explore the island.

Greece’s National Public Health Organization reports that infections are rising their fastest in tourist hotspots, including Crete, and the Ionian and South Aegean islands.

Croatia

Cases of the coronavirus are ticking upwards in Croatia. The nation has seen infections nearly triple from 74 per million people per day to 210.

Arrivals no longer need to fill out passenger arrival forms, show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Masks are now only required in hospital and care homes.

Egypt

Egypt has reported zero Covid infections for more than two months.

But health ministers told local media that cases have jumped seven per cent in the past week. They blamed the BA.4 and BA.5 variants and waning immunity, with the last lot of vaccinations dished out six months ago.

However, hospitalisations and deaths remain at their lowest level since the pandemic began, according to the Ministry of Health.

Along with most other countries, arrivals no longer need to fill out arrival documents, prove their vaccinated or provide a negative test.

Turkey

Virus infections are rising sharply in Turkey. The country logged 141 infections per million people yesterday — nearly 11 times more than the 13 it recorded two weeks earlier.

Cases had been trending downwards in Turkey since January, when infections soared to pandemic highs of 1,216 per million.

However, holidaymakers have been able to arrive in the country without having to prove their are vaccinated or tested negative since June 1.

And they are no longer required to wear masks, although health chiefs advise people to wear them in crowded places.

Professor Serap Şimşek Yavuz, a member of the Health Ministry’s Covid advisory board told local Demirören News Agency that Istanbul, the Turkey’s most populated city, is seeing the biggest rise in cases.

Tunisia

Covid cases are trending upwards in Tunisia, where 66 people per million tested positive per day in the week to June 29 — the latest date figures are available for.

For comparison, the country logged just 11 infections per day a fortnight earlier — a sixth of the current level.

Tunisia eased mandatory five-day self-isolation for travellers last month. However, arrivals aged 18 and over still have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test taken within 24 hours of arriving.

And after landing in the country, passengers may be tested at random with PCR swabs.

Morocco

Morocco is in the midst of a fourth wave, logging 80 infections per million people. Cases have double from 40 a fortnight ago and are at a five-month high and half the level of the Omicron-fuelled January peak.

Holidaymakers aged 18 and over must show proof of being triple-jabbed or a negative test taken within 72 hour of boarding. Randomly selected passengers will be tested at random on arrival.

US

Infections are ticking upwards in the US, where 308 people per million tested positive yesterday, up eight per cent in the last fortnight.

Positive tests have been on the rise since April, after they plummeted to 80 per million, compared to 2,424 per million in January at the height of the Omicron wave.

New York City’s test positivity rate reached 10.3 percent for the first time in six months. The BA.5 sub-lineage is believed to be behind the rise.

The BA.5 variant now makes up 36.6 percent of sequenced cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mexico

Mexico is logging a rise in Covid cases, reporting 140 per million people yesterday, compared to 59 per million two weeks earlier — an increase of 137.3 per cent.

Infections began creeping upwards in May and are now at their highest level since February, although the prevalence of the virus is less than half of that seen at the January peak.

Travellers do not need to provide proof of a negative test or show their vaccination status.

But some cities and states have Covid requirements in place.

Thailand

Cases have increased by a fifth in Thailand over the last fortnight — from 29 to 34 per million — but are still at very low levels. Last month, cases fell to their lowest level in more than a year.

Travellers have to show a vaccination certificate, a negative PCR test or professionally administered lateral flow test to get into the country.

Those without proof of a negative test will have to pay for and take one at the airport and those who test positive must pay for any medical expenses.

However, masks and other curbs are no longer in place.

Vietnam

Covid infections are flat in Vietnam, where around eight people per million have been testing positive per day for the last month. The country’s latest wave began to retreat in March, after spiking at 2,791 cases per million.

The country eased its Covid rules in mid-May, so that arrivals don’t need to show their vaccination status or a negative test.

Caribbean islands

Covid infections are rising steeply in Barbados, with confirmed daily cases jumping 73.9 per cent from 314 to 546 per million over the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, Dominican Republic has seen cases climb steadily by 45.3 per cent over the last fortnight, from 75 to 109 per million.

Seychelles has seen a slight uptick, from 228 to 257 in the two weeks to July 1.

However, the outlook is better in Cuba, where cases have been flat for more than a month, with around three positive tests confirmed per day.

And infections are falling in Saint Lucia, where cases have dropped from 139 to 96 over the last two weeks.

Australia

Daily infections in the former zero-Covid country Australia. The nation yesterday logged 1,294 infections per million people, up by a fifth compared to two weeks prior.

International arrivals are no longer required to prove their vaccination status as of tomorrow. However, masks must be worn on all international inbound flights as well as domestic flights.

Dr Kerry Chant, the chief health officer in New South Wales, this week urged people to wear masks in indoor public spaces over concerns about the spread.

Health leaders in Queensland said a return to mandatory masks is not being considered. But the Australian Capital Territory, which includes the capital Canberra, said the move was not being ruled out.

Holidaymakers are forced to sleep by the BINS in Heathrow as British Airways cancel flights for up to 105,000 passengers this month while ministers are urged to ‘get a grip’ before school summer holidays

Holidaymakers were today forced to sleep by the bins in Heathrow as Britain’s airport chaos took yet another turn for the worse.

A young family were spotted catching up on rest in the most uncomfortable of positions, as terminals up and down the country are once again packed with frustrated, queuing passengers.

It comes as British Airways revealed it is axing journeys for up to 105,000 holidaymakers this month — telling bosses at Gatwick and Heathrow it is cancelling more than 650 flights to more than 70 destinations including Malaga, Ibiza, Palma, Faro and Athens to try and avoid more chaos at terminals.

Affected passengers are being contacted and offered refunds or the chance to rebook.

The move has been allowed due to a temporary Government ‘amnesty’ on scheduling rules, meaning airlines can make changes without risking a fine.

Ministers urged firms to review their flight plans after manic scenes in recent months, sparked by staff shortages and an overselling of seats to meet demand.

A BA spokesman told the Telegraph: ‘As the entire aviation industry continues to face the most challenging period in its history, regrettably it has become necessary to make some further reductions. We’re in touch with customers to apologise and offer to rebook them or issue a full refund.’

Today, travellers were pictured enduring yet more long queues at major airports amid fears of a holiday stampede in the next fortnight, when schools break up for summer.

Passengers resort to sleeping on the floor near rubbish bins at Heathrow as they wait for their flights to board

There were long queues at Luton Airport this morning as the aviation crisis continues to cause chaos across Britain

There were long queues at Manchester Airport this morning as the aviation crisis continues to cause chaos across Britain

Ministers urged firms to review their flight plans after manic scenes in recent months, sparked by staff shortages and an overselling of seats to meet demand. Pictured: Birmingham Airport this morning

There were long queues at Luton Airport this morning as the aviation crisis continues to cause chaos across Britain

A passenger at Heathrow airport takes time out for a snooze amid more queues and delays today

There were long queues at Heathrow Airport this morning as the aviation crisis continues to cause chaos across Britain

Unions say no to more night flights as they oppose Government’s bid to solve airports crisis

Union bosses have vowed to oppose using night flights to ease travel chaos, it was reported last night.

In yet another blow for holidaymakers, unions said they would push back against plans to relax overnight flight rules that would see staff working ‘anti-social hours’.

Airlines are limited to the number of flights that can run between 11.30pm and 6am at major airports, which often leads to flights being cancelled if they are delayed.

Amid mounting pressure to solve the travel chaos, the Department for Transport said it will consider suspending the rules to ease disruption.

But last night unions vowed to oppose the plans over fears staff could be made to work long hours during the night.

A GMB union source told the Daily Telegraph: ‘It’s not fair to force our members to work nights to pick up the slack for their mistakes.’

It comes as holidaymakers are now facing a summer of travel chaos in Europe as countries across the continent grapple with staff shortages and strikes.

Huw Merriman, chairman of the transport select committee warned that the plan could ‘annoy the heck out of residents’ but said he was open to finding out more about lifting the night ban.

He added: ‘I don’t see what good that would do and can see what damage that would do. I don’t know if crew will want to fly at two in the morning.’

Labour yesterday demanded Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ‘get a grip fast’ as the crisis continues to worsen, after easyJet’s chief operating officer resigned following fury at the budget airline’s cancellation of thousands of flights.

And unions said they would push back against plans to relax overnight flight rules, leading to staff working ‘antisocial hours’.

One passenger waiting at Manchester Airport yesterday tweeted a photo of a queue to enter Terminal 3 that stretched into the multi-storey car park.

A second complained of ‘carnage’ while a third added: ‘Today is the worst ever. Actually standing in the car park to wait for security. Utter shambles.’

Travellers also posted images of long lines at Heathrow, with one saying the queue for security ‘starts outside the terminal’. He added: ‘Avoid at all costs. Total mess.’

Problems at Heathrow are set to worsen when the school holidays begin and check-in and ground staff are expected to strike.

But insiders denied security waits yesterday were excessive.

At London City Airport – which has largely escaped the worst of the disruption – one passenger said it had taken ‘three hours to get through security at 6am’.

He added: ‘Totally out of control, what a mess.’

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who sits on the Commons transport committee, said: ‘If airports are already in meltdown now things will only get worse once the schools break for summer holidays. It’s going to be complete chaos if they do not get a grip – and get a grip fast.’

The boss of Heathrow has warned of up to 18 months of disruption as airlines struggle to recruit and train staff.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is considering temporarily suspending rules on night flights.

Airlines are currently restricted in how many flights they can run between 11.30pm and 6am at major airports, which often leads to cancellations in case of delays.

But a GMB union source told the Daily Telegraph: ‘It’s not fair to force our members to work nights to pick up the slack for their mistakes.’ Responding to passenger complaints, London City Airport insisted the ‘average journey time’ through the airport yesterday was 45 minutes.

A spokesman blamed staff sickness and handling passengers rebooked from other airports.

Manchester Airport apologised for ‘any inconvenience caused’ but insisted ‘the vast majority of people’ passed through security in less than 30 minutes yesterday.

Heathrow insisted the airport was ‘busy but flowing’ yesterday, saying that while queues may have looked ‘daunting’, this was due to the layout of buildings. A spokesman said the ‘vast majority’ of passengers got through security in less than 30 minutes.

Security queues at Heathrow Terminal 2 were seen stretching out the doors yesterday morning

One passenger at Manchester Airport yesterday (pictured) showed queues into a car park

Life was no better at Stansted yesterday, where passengers arrived extra early for their flights

A passenger at Manchester claimed the queue yesterday stretched into a multi-storey car park

A passenger at Heathrow Airport posted this picture of huge crowds at 4am yesterday

Queues in the car park at Manchester Airport yesterday as passengers tried to head on holiday

Meanwhile, easyJet’s chief operating officer Peter Bellew resigned yesterday amid growing pressure on the airline to reduce flight disruption. It has axed thousands of flights in recent months – including many just hours before they were due to depart.

Airlines have until Friday to take advantage of a government ‘amnesty’ allowing them to change airport schedules without facing a potential penalty.

Mr Shapps is trying to avoid a summer repeat of the mayhem over the Easter and Platinum Jubilee holidays.

The Government has ordered vetting centres carrying out checks on new recruits to prioritise airport staff. The DfT said counter-terrorist and accreditation checks were now being completed in record time.

A Heathrow spokesman said: ‘This is a busy period as people make the most of the ability to travel for the first summer in three years. We are doing everything we can to give everyone a good journey and for the vast majority of passengers this is the experience they are having.’

A DfT spokesman said it was ‘working closely with the aviation sector to help holidaymakers enjoy the summer getaways they deserve’.

He added: ‘It’s now on airlines to commit to running the flights they’ve promised and for airports and ground handlers to ensure they have the staff needed to enable these flights.’

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