UK Covid cases hit highest level since JANUARY as deaths double to 33

UK’s daily Covid cases hit highest level since JANUARY in 25% weekly spike to 32,548 as deaths double to 33 and hospitalisations keep rising – but No10 believes cases will start to fall next month because virus will ‘run out of people to infect’

  • Department of Health figures shows there were 32,548 new infections in the past 24 hours and 33 fatalities
  • Ministers are pressing on with Freedom Day on July 19 despite the fact cases are doubling every nine days
  • Roughly one death per every 1,000 cases in Britain at moment, down from one in 100 in previous waves

Britain’s daily Covid cases have breached 30,000 for the first time since January when the second wave was still raging — and deaths have more than doubled in a week.

Department of Health figures show there were 32,548 new infections across the UK in the past 24 hours, up by a quarter on last week and the highest number since January 23. 

Another 33 Covid deaths were also registered overnight, which was more than twice as many as last Wednesday when there were 14.

No10 is pressing on with Freedom Day on July 19 despite the fact cases are doubling every nine days and are expected to soar past 100,000 by August. The highest daily case count so far was 68,000 on January 8.   

Ministers have grown increasingly confident in the vaccine rollout, which saw another 86,000 first and 153,000 second doses administered yesterday. It means 86 per cent of adults have had at least one jab and 65 per cent have had two.

There is roughly one death per every 1,000 cases in Britain at the moment, down from one in 100 in previous waves, but officials expect this gap to get even wider as more people get vaccinated.  

Latest figures show there were 386 Covid admissions on July 3, an increase of about 45 per cent on the previous week and double the number in early June. Like cases, hospitalisations now appear to be growing exponentially.

But the vaccine effect means there are still 10 times fewer patients being admitted each day now compared to late January when daily infections were last this high.

It came as Boris Johnson faced a mounting backlash against a ‘lockdown by stealth’ today amid claims that Britons are deleting the NHS app to avoid being ‘pinged’.

Business have voiced alarm that the test and trace system is ‘casting the net wide’ with how many people it orders to stay at home after coming close to a positive case – as anger grows at the six week delay in exempting double-jabbed people from the regime.

Hospitality chiefs said say they are already seeing staff uninstalling the official app to avoid the threat to their livelihoods, and MPs questioned whether customers will take the chance of going to pubs while the rules are so tight.

A pub owner wants to remind the public ignoring NHS Covid app alerts is not illegal, amid fears Test and Trace is causing a ‘lockdown by stealth’ by forcing people to stay at home even when they have been vaccinated and test negative.

App users who are ‘pinged’ after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive are under no legal obligation to stay at home.

They are kept anonymous through the app, meaning authorities are unable to track them down if they have been told to quarantine.

But anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace workers does have to self-isolate under regulations brought in last autumn to tackle coronavirus. That rule won’t be dropped for fully vaccinated adults until August 16.

Amid fears millions could be told to self-isolate over the next few weeks because of soaring cases, one pub owner was keen to point out notifications on the app carry no legal obligation to quarantine at home.

Writing on Twitter, the co-founder of chain Yummy Pubs Tim Foster, 40, said: ‘Good news.

‘There is no legal requirement to isolate if notified by the app. Only legal requirement is if Test and Trace contact you. Pssst, pass it on.’

The reminder comes amid claims that Brits are deleting the NHS app to avoid being ‘pinged’. It has been downloaded almost 26million times.

Business have voiced alarm the test and trace system is ‘casting the net wide’ with how many people it orders to stay at home after coming close to a positive case — as anger grows at the six week delay in exempting double-jabbed people from the regime.

Hospitality chiefs said say they are already seeing staff uninstalling the official app to avoid the threat to their livelihoods, with many unaware there is no legal obligation to follow its instruction.

MPs questioned whether customers will take the chance of going to pubs while the rules are so tight.

In a bruising PMQs clash, Keir Starmer swiped: ‘It won’t feel like Freedom Day to those who are having to self-isolate.’

He went on: ‘There are already too many stories of people deleting the NHS app.

‘And they’re doing it because they can see what’s coming down the track. Now of course we don’t support that, but under his plan it’s entirely predictable.

‘What is the Prime Minister going to do to stop people deleting the NHS app because they can see precisely what he can’t see, which is millions of them are going to be pinged this summer to self-isolate.’

But Mr Johnson retorted that those who self-isolate are doing the ‘right thing’, stressing that the government will be moving away from the system over the ‘next few weeks’. ‘We will continue with a balanced and reasonable approach,’ he said.

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said self-isolation should be replaced with daily tests before August 16.

Tories are raging that Freedom Day on July 19 has ‘in reality’ been pushed back after Sajid Javid announced that fully vaccinated people will not be excused self-isolation until August 16.

Kwasi Kwarteng defended keeping the rules in place for longer this morning, despite fury that it will doom millions of healthy people to house-arrest and wreak havoc on the economy.

The Business Secretary insisted the extension was ‘reasonable’ and a ‘balance’ on the wider unlocking.

But Tory MP David Jones told MailOnline: ‘It is a huge worry. Everyone was given the impression that Freedom Day would be the 19th. But now it is perfectly clear it is being delayed in reality by another five weeks.

‘It is stage five. It just continues forever, stretches into infinity.’ He added: ‘I don’t like to use the word ‘con’, but there is a bit of sleight of hand going on here.’

From the middle of next month people who have received two doses – with the second administered at least two weeks previously – can take PCR tests rather than self-isolating. Under-18s will also not be subject to the restrictions from the same date.

But the timetable means ‘scary’ numbers will be caught in the system after all other restrictions lift on July 19, with furious firms warning they are on the brink of disaster amid ‘massive’ problems of staff absence and customers bailing out out of bookings. Others also raged that the government is failing to provide any clarity on the rules for getting staff back in offices.

Critics claimed it could mean a de facto continuation of restrictions, with pubs forced to keep to the rule of six and table service to avoid all drinkers being ordered to self-isolate when one tests positive. There are also fears that people will start deleting the NHS app to avoid being notified.

Former Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith said the announcement ‘makes a mockery’ of the idea that July 19 will mark the end of restrictions.

He told the Telegraph: ‘Why would you even go to a pub [after Step 4]? This makes it worse.

‘I wouldn’t go to a pub that wasn’t still having six around a table and social distancing, otherwise you run the risk of everyone in the pub being pinged and locked down.’

Sir Iain told MailOnline that unlocking without dropping isolation rules was a ‘disaster’ for hospitality and ‘ironically makes it worse not better’. ‘A restaurant can’t say we carried on with the restrictions because it was better for us,’ he said.

‘The government has not thought things through. This becomes a pointless exercise. Because actually if I was running a restaurant I would not want to be unlocked

‘You are telling everyone you are going to unlock. But they have not given anyone a choice to say, well we won’t fully unlock, we will still run it like this as it means we won’t all have to go home.’

In a bruising PMQs clash, Keir Starmer swiped at Boris Johnson: ‘It won’t feel like Freedom Day to those who are having to self-isolate.’

The rise in coronavirus cases has been driving up the numbers forced to self-isolate after being ‘pinged’ – with the trend now set to continue into the middle of August with up to 3.5m told to self-isolate

More than 100 Britons could die each day from Covid when Britain finally emerges from lockdown later this month, according to the Government’s own assumptions. No10 said it expects up to 50,000 cases a day by July 19 Freedom Day and potentially 100,000 daily cases in August. Professor Neil Ferguson said about 0.1 per cent – or one in 1,000 – of people who catch Covid will die from the virus. The above graph shows how cases and deaths could rise based on these remarks. Deaths lag behind case spikes by about three weeks

Letting cases rise to 100,000 a day ‘could spawn new variant’ 

Britain could be left battling against a vaccine-resistant Covid variant if cases are allowed to spiral to 100,000 a day, scientists warned today.

Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, claimed letting the coronavirus rip may lead to another mutant strain arising in the UK, which could pose a threat to any hopes of a life without lockdown.

But not all scientists monitoring the pandemic are convinced that the summer surge in cases will inevitably turn the UK into a variant factory.

Seeking to play down the fears, the boss of Britain’s largest Covid surveillance centre pointed out variants are normally either vaccine resistant or more transmissible.

SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus behind Covid, is constantly evolving and the majority of mutations are ‘benign’, according to Dr Jeff Barrett, of the Sanger Institute.

The South African ‘Beta’ variant, which can dodge vaccine-triggered immunity, has failed to gain a foothold in the UK. But the more transmissible Indian ‘Delta’ variant quickly became dominant, and now accounts for nine in ten cases.

Ministers warned yesterday cases in Britain could hit more than 100,000 a day next month, following ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19.

The country is currently recording almost 30,000 a day, with the outbreak fuelled by the rapid spread of the Indian Delta variant.

Hospitalisations and deaths are now beginning to tick upwards but Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday insisted that the ‘wall of protection’ from vaccines would hold.

Vaccines still work against the Indian mutant strain, drastically cutting the risk of infected people becoming severely ill. But Boris Johnson has already admitted the emergence of a vaccine-resistant variant could threaten plans in the future.

Sir Iain said few waiters and waitresses will be old enough to have received second jabs.

‘In breaking out completely from the rule of six and isolating people at tables you have actually endangered the whole of the working staff of the hospitality sector.

‘Because everyone who hasn’t had a second jab will have to self-isolate.

‘They need to rethink this now so if a restaurant doesn’t want to lose all its staff it stays in the system it is in at the moment.’

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Kwarteng said the government was being told it was going to fast with the unlocking by some people, and too slowly by others.

‘You can’t have it both ways,’ he told Sky News. ‘On the one hand we’re saying we want to reopen but we’re giving a measure of precaution in terms of delaying the lifting of self-isolation restrictions.

‘It’s a balance, it’s not a perfect solution. But on the one hand we’re saying that we can reopen and on the other we’re saying that we want to give a little bit more protection in terms of the self-isolation rules.’

Mr Ashworth warned that public services could be ‘unable to cope’ in the coming weeks due to the workforce self-isolating after contact with a positive case.

Asked if Labour was in favour of bringing forward the date when self-isolation rules will be eased for the double-jabbed, he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: ‘I think you can bring it forward if people are taking a daily lateral flow test which has been properly recorded, that there is a PCR test at an appropriate moment throughout that period.

‘Otherwise you are going to find huge swathes of public services unable to cope because their workforce will be isolating.’

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said yesterday he wanted to wait until the middle of next month to ensure more people were fully vaccinated.

But concerns have been raised that six million people – or even more – could be forced into self-isolation before August 16 if cases rise as quickly as some predict. Mr Javid himself has suggested there could be 100,000 new infections per day by next month.

Business chiefs warned of further ‘devastating’ harm to the economy and mayhem for the hospitality industry.

One small trader said the six-week wait meant Boris Johnson’s ‘big bang’ unlocking on July 19 was more like ‘day release with an electronic tag’. The travel industry raised the spectre of families having to cancel holidays at the last minute if one member was told to self-isolate.

Mr Javid told the Commons that ministers had looked at changing the isolation rules sooner, but were ‘more comfortable’ waiting until even more people are vaccinated.

He said that by ‘Freedom Day’ he expects daily cases to reach 50,000 – nearly double the current level – and further into the summer they could go ‘as high as 100,000’.

‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson said yesterday he is ‘optimistic’ the ‘gamble’ of releasing restrictions will work – but he cautioned that cases could hit 200,000 a day and they might need to be reimposed if vaccines are slightly less effective than hoped and deaths surge.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, led the criticism of yesterday’s announcement, saying it did not go ‘far enough, quickly enough’.

She added: ‘The sector is experiencing severe staff shortages, compounded massively by the absence of team members who have been told to isolate despite not having shared shifts with colleagues who tested positive.’

Julian Metcalfe, the founder of cafe chains Pret and Itsu, said delaying the changes would be ‘devastating’.

He added: ‘My director of operations said today it’s the biggest crisis there is. You can’t operate a business because suddenly everybody has to go home if they’re pinged by the app.

‘How does anything this mad happen? Does anyone understand? It’s completely and utterly mental. It puts hundreds of thousands of people’s lives at risk because their jobs are under threat.’

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham said: ‘The big question is why not implement the change now; the science won’t change in the next 41 days. Other countries having been doing this for months.’ Mr Javid told the Commons yesterday that ending the self-isolation requirement was a ‘risk-based approach’, made possible by the success of the vaccination programme.

‘Step by step, jab by jab, we are replacing the temporary protection of the restrictions with the longterm protection of the vaccine,’ he said.

Source: Read Full Article