Britain records 63 Covid deaths in highest daily toll since MARCH

Britain records 63 Covid deaths in highest daily fatality toll since MARCH with infections on brink of tipping the 50,000 barrier and hospitalisations continuing to rise

  • Some 48,533 positive coronavirus tests were registered in UK today, up by 49.2 per cent on last Thursday
  • Deaths have risen by 80 per cent in a week, with today’s count the most since 70 were posted on March 26
  • Hospitalisations are also rising in line with spiralling cases, Department of Health statistics also revealed 

Britain today recorded a four-month high in daily Covid deaths, with another 63 victims added to the country’s official fatality toll.

Department of Health statistics also show the UK is on the brink of breaching the 50,000 case mark, meaning infections are closing in on levels seen during the darkest days of the second wave.

Some 48,533 positive coronavirus tests were registered today, up by 49.2 per cent on last week and the highest figure since January 14 (48,682). 

Deaths have risen by 80 per cent in a week, with today’s count the most since 70 were posted on March 26. 

Hospitalisations are also rising in line with spiralling cases. More than 580 infected Brits were admitted needing medical treatment on July 11, the most recent day figures are available for. For comparison, the previous week’s figure stood at 456. 

Despite official figures showing no signs of the outbreak slowing down, one surveillance study claimed the UK’s crisis may have already peaked.

King’s College London scientists estimated 33,118 people were catching the virus daily in the week ending July 10, compared to 33,723 in the previous seven-day spell. 

The same data suggested vaccinated Brits now make up almost half of Covid cases across the country. This does not mean the jabs do not work. Scientists have always been honest that they are not perfect and millions will still be vulnerable to infection even after getting both doses.

Without vaccines, today’s death toll would have been much worse. The last time cases were this high, up to 1,250 fatalities were being recorded every day. Experts believe jabs have already saved 37,000 lives from Covid.

Meanwhile, data today also showed Covid cases have spiralled to record levels among men in their 20s, in more signs that Euro 2020 led to a spike in infections. 

Public Health England data showed 10,267 more young men than women were infected with the virus last week, the highest number since records began. Cases remained evenly split between men and women throughout the pandemic but began to diverge after June 13, when England beat Croatia 1-0 in their opening match.


PHE figures also showed Covid infections have now surged to their highest levels since the pandemic began among teenagers, and in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber. Cases are spiralling in 90 per cent of areas across the country

Surveillance data shows almost half of cases are now being spotted among Britons who have received at least one dose of the vaccine (orange line), while they are dropping among the un-vaccinated (blue line). Professor Spector suggested this may be the case because the virus is ‘running out’ of un-vaccinated people to infect

This graph shows the percentage of Covid swabs that detected the virus among Britons depending on whether they were un-vaccinated (red line), had one dose (blue line) or two doses (orange line). Almost half of all Britons who had Covid had been vaccinated in the week to July 10 (week 27 on the graph). Cases in un-vaccinated Britons did not appear to be falling here because the graph considers the percentage of people tested who had the virus

Test and Trace data published today showed cases surged by 43 per cent last week. They said there were 194,000 positive tests in the week to July 7, the highest since late January when the second wave was starting to run out of steam

A record half-a-million Brits were told to self-isolate by NHS Covid app last week, amid mounting concerns over the chaos triggered by the ‘pingdemic’.

Unions have warned factories across the country are on the ‘verge of shutting’ down, with tens of thousands of workers urged to quarantine at home by the app.

Up to 900 workers at car giant Nissan’s flagship plant in Sunderland are being made to self-isolate, it was claimed today.

Around 10 per cent of staff working at the Japanese car firm’s manufacturing site in Sunderland were pinged by the app.

People told to isolate by the app are under no legal requirement to do so because their identity is not tracked by the software.

But fears have been raised that the software could cripple the nation’s already fragile economy this summer when restrictions are completely lifted. 

In other Covid news:

  • A record half-a-million Britons were sentenced to ‘pingdemic’ lockdown last week, figures revealed, amid concerns NHS Covid contact-tracing app could force millions off work;
  • Britons were forced to cancel holiday plans in droves as Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca are set to be scrubbed from the ‘green list’;
  • Face mask shambles continued as police were told they must keep wearing them while on the beat;
  • Study revealed people given AstraZeneca’s Covid jab were less likely to develop antibodies than those who received Pfizer’s;
  • Vaccines Tsar Kate Bingham was revealed as one of 40,000 double-jabbed Britons forced to put holiday plans on hold after taking part in Novavax trial that is still not recognised by NHS or EU;
  • Pub in Norwich becomes the first in the country to ban punters who can’t prove they’ve been jabbed;

Infections are rising fastest among young Britons — many of whom have only received one dose, multiple data sources show. 

But the ZOE app counts these people as ‘vaccinated’ even though they are not yet fully protected by two doses. 

A second dose of all vaccines has been shown to be much more effective than a first dose against the Indian ‘Delta’ variant.

Professor Tim Spector, who leads the study run with health-technology firm ZOE, said the shift in trend was likely because the virus was ‘running out’ of non-jabbed Britons to infect, with nearly 90 per cent of adults having now received at least one dose.  

It came after a study last night suggested elderly Brits given AstraZeneca’s vaccine are less likely to have Covid antibodies than those who had Pfizer’s. Rigorous trials also showed the British-made jab was slightly weaker. 

Coronavirus cases were rising rapidly throughout June, with the easing of restrictions blamed for sparking a third wave — although some scientists believe Euro 2020 led to a surge in infections.

Infections in Scotland have halved in the past fortnight, according to estimates by the King’s app. The fall, which coincided with the national team being knocked out of the major football tournament early, has fuelled hope that England’s outbreak will eventually fall, too. 

Professor Spector said they were seeing infections ‘plateau’ across the country but the rate of decline was slower than during the second wave. Earlier this week, he predicted they may have already peaked.  

However, scientists have raised concerns the Covid symptom study — which relies on daily reports from more than a million Britons — is no longer a ‘reliable enough guide’.

No other survey has yet to point to a downturn in cases for Britain as a whole, although official Department of Health statistics do back up the claims that Scotland’s outbreak is shrinking.  

It came as Test and Trace figures published today found cases had surged by 43 per cent in the week to July 7, with 194,000 new infections recorded over the seven-day period.

A breakdown of the latest ZOE/King’s figures revealed cases were up by two fifths among those who have received at least one dose, but down by a fifth in people who have not got the vaccine.

As many as 15,537 infections are occurring every day among people who have got at least one jab, the app suggested.

This was up 40 per cent from 11,084 daily infections a fortnight ago. 

NHS England data showed a record 520,000 alerts were sent by the app last week, telling people they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive

Up to 10 per cent of staff working at Nissan’s car plant in Sunderland (pictured) have been told to self-isolate by the app

People given AstraZeneca’s Covid jab are less likely to develop antibodies than those who receive Pfizer’s 

Elderly Britons given AstraZeneca’s vaccine are less likely to have Covid antibodies than those who had Pfizer’s, a study has suggested. 

Imperial College London researchers found fewer than 85 per cent of over-80s had detectable levels of the virus-fighting proteins two weeks after their second AZ jab. 

By contrast, the proportion of over-80s with antibodies after getting the second Pfizer vaccine was almost 98 per cent.

The findings came from Britain’s largest surveillance study, known as REACT-2, which randomly tests blood samples from hundreds of thousands of Britons.

Although antibodies are just one part of the overall immune response to Covid, experts said the study results were not totally surprising. 

Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at Reading University, told MailOnline the British jab was less likely to spark immunity because it relied on a weakened cold virus. 

In some cases the body may attack this virus instead of the Covid proteins on its surface, which results in the jab failing to spark Covid immunity, he said. But Pfizer’s jab does not have this problem because it uses a completely different technology. 

In trials of the jabs, AstraZeneca’s vaccine was also found to be slightly weaker at preventing symptomatic Covid infection. 

But real-world analysis of Britain’s vaccine rollout has shown that both vaccines are extremely effective at stopping severe illness and death.

Even against the Indian variant, they were both shown to reduce the risk of being hospitalised with the virus by more than 90 per cent. 

Among Britons who had not been jabbed there were estimated to be 17,581 daily infections, a fall of 20 per cent on the previous period.

Professor Spector said: ‘In the UK, new cases in vaccinated people are still going up and soon will outpace un-vaccinated cases. 

‘This is probably because we’re running out of un-vaccinated susceptible people to infect as more and more people get the vaccine.

‘While the figures look worrying, it is important to highlight that vaccines have massively reduced severe infections and post-vaccination Covid is a much milder disease for most people. 

‘The main concern is now the risk of long Covid.’ 

More than 46million Britons — or 87.4 per cent of adults — have got at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. And 35.1million — or 66.7 per cent — have received both doses.

Ministers trumpeted the drive yesterday for being ahead of schedule, after two thirds of Britons received both doses of the vaccine five days before tNo10’s target of ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19. 

The latest King’s/ZOE data also estimated cases have dropped by one per cent across the country.

It marks the first fall since May 22 at the end of the second wave, when they dipped by seven per cent to 2,550 new infections a day.

Scotland was a key driver of this week’s fall, with daily infections projected to have nearly halved from 4,780 to 2,760.

It comes just three weeks after their national team crashed out of the Euro 2020 tournament, which has been repeatedly linked to surging infections. 

Professor Spector added: ‘We are seeing the overall incidence rates plateau in the UK with an R value of 1.0, which is good news. 

‘But the rate of decline may be slower this time, as many of the restrictions in place previously will end. The numbers are still high with around 1 in 142 people with Covid, so we’ll keep a close eye on numbers and the effect of the Euro Football Championship in the coming days and weeks.’

Oxford University scientist Professor James Naismith warned yesterday the King’s study may be becoming less reliable. 

Responding to the daily cases figures, he said: ‘It would suggest that ZOE is not providing a reliable guide to this wave since it had noted a peak of 33,000 cases. 

‘Of course, no measure is perfect and ZOE has proven informative in the past, it may be changes in symptoms and/or behaviour are confounding it.’

In response to his claim, King’s scientists said they now had very few contributors who had not been vaccinated. They added that they were more confident in their figures for those who have received at least one dose. 

It comes as official figures revealed today a record half-a-million Britons were told to self-isolate by NHS Covid app last week, amid mounting concerns over chaos triggered by the ‘pingdemic’.

Unions warned the country is on the verge of shutting down, with thousands of factory workers forced to stay at home by the app. 

Deaths directly caused by alcohol reached record levels last year after Covid lockdowns drove binge drinking at home, a study by Public Health England has suggested. Graph shows: The number of alcohol-specific deaths per 100,000 in England each month in 2021, 2020 and the baseline average taken from 2018 and 2019

Despite pubs, clubs and restaurants during the national lockdowns, the total amount of alcohol released for sale during the pandemic was still similar to the pre-pandemic years, suggesting people were drinking more at home, PHE said

Brits cancel summer trip plans as cost of flights back from Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca soar nine-fold after they were axed from green list

Spain’s Balearic Islands will be moved to the amber list on Monday, while Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Croatia and Taiwan have been upgraded to green-list travel status

The summer holiday plans of thousands lie in ruins this morning, with people cancelling their planned trips to the Balearic Islands after they were struck off the green list while the cost of flights back from Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca soared nine-fold after last night’s announcement.

Travel experts, MPs and holidaymakers slammed Transport Secretary Grant Shapp’s ‘bitterly disappointing’ decision to demote the archipelago to the amber list of foreign destinations this morning, after the islands enjoyed quarantine-free travel status for just two weeks.

Furious Twitter users accused the Government of ‘taking the pi**’ and complained there is ‘absolutely no point going abroad’ until next year. One wrote: ‘We’re staying in the UK this year. We decided to not even try to go abroad, too much hassle, quarantines etc… and way too expensive’.

Double-vaccinated people will still be able to return from the Balearic Islands quarantine free, even though they are on the amber list, when travel rules change on Monday. But the move will be a blow to younger holidaymakers who are not yet fully jabbed and will now have to quarantine on their return to the UK or cancel their booking altogether.

British holidaymakers currently in Spain’s Balearic Islands are now scrambling back to the UK to beat the latest quarantine deadline at 4am on Monday, July 19 – when most legal restrictions imposed during the pandemic are due to be scrapped on England’s so-called ‘Freedom Day’.

Flight prices from the archipelago have soared as much as nine times, with budget airline Ryanair’s morning and evening trips from Palma de Mallorca to Manchester Airport rocketing from just £12 at the start of yesterday to nearly £110 an hour before Mr Shapps’ announcement.

Saturday’s mid-afternoon British Airway flight from Ibiza to London Heathrow was priced at around £115. Within two hours, tickets for the same journey had increased to £220 – a 92 per cent increase. On the last easyJet flight from Menorca to Gatwick before the deadline, the last three seats on the passenger carrier cost £118 – around two-thirds more than the preannouncement fare, the Independent reports.

 

And it came amid reports up to 900 staff at Nissan’s car factory in Sunderland had been forced to self-isolate by the app. 

Up to 10 per cent of staff working at the Japanese car company’s manufacturing plant in Sunderland were pinged by the app.

Official figures released today show the contact-tracing app sent out a record 520,000 self-isolation alerts last week.

The number of ‘pings’ dished out by the software in the week ending July 7 was the highest since the data was first published in January, and was up 46 per cent on the previous seven-day spell.

Fears have been raised that the software could cripple the nation’s already fragile economy this summer when restrictions are completely lifted.

Businesses demanding a re-think of the rules have warned supermarket shelves may be left empty if tens of thousands of workers are told they must self-isolate in the coming weeks, while there are fears piles of rubbish may pile up in the street.

People told to isolate by the app are under no legal requirement to do so because their identity is not tracked by the software.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick today admitted No10 was ‘concerned’ about the number of people who may have to self-isolate because of the app.

Despite fears the chaos will only get worse over the next few weeks with infections expected to continue spiralling, it was claimed that the contact-tracing app may not be watered down after all.

Government officials have been tasked with tweaking the software so fewer people are ‘pinged’ and told to self-isolate.

But sources told The Times that it was possible no changes will be made, and that if they are, they won’t happen until August 16 — the same day quarantine rules end for the fully-vaccinated.

NHS England data showed a record number of positive cases were linked to the app last week, as the third wave gathers steam.

Infections have soared over the past weeks, with some experts attributing the sharp rise to England’s progress to the final of Euro 2020.

There were 86,000 positive cases logged with the software, up 40 per cent on the 61,000 in the previous week.

And the number of alerts sent linked to venues more than doubled to 1,247 places.

These are sent when someone has visited a location, like a pub or restaurant, on the same day as another person who later tested positive for the virus.

Ministers are understood to have been spooked out of tweaking the app by the soaring infection rates.

Britain yesterday recorded 42,000 cases in the highest figure since mid-January, as the second wave was beginning to die down. Ministers fear they could spiral to 100,000 a day by mid-August.

Thinktanks have claimed the rise in cases could see up to 2million people told to quarantine at home every week by the app, unless it is watered down.

Mr Jenrick called on Britons to keep using the app today but hinted ministers were still mulling over how to update it.

Separate figures revealed today showed Covid lockdowns helped to fuel a 20 per cent spike in alcohol-related deaths in 2020 with restrictions swaying people into drinking more at home.

Public Health England chiefs say the endless cycle of lockdowns swayed people into binge-drinking at home.

Data shows there were 6,893 deaths blamed on alcohol in 2020, compared to 5,819 in 2019 before the virus reached Britain. 

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