UK reports over 30,000 cases for sixth day in a row – as Covid deaths drop

UK: Expert warns over number of COVID-19 hospitalisations

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Government data showed there were 34,471 new coronavirus cases following the 31,772 that were recorded on Sunday. A further six new deaths have been reported, lower than the 26 reported on Sunday and the nine reported last Monday. The latest data also revealed 45.9 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a vaccine, while 34.9 million people have had both jabs.

Daily positive cases have been surging in Britain over the past few weeks, prodominantly through the Delta variant of Covid. 

But the UK Government has insisted a speedy vaccination programme appears to be weakening the link between infections and deaths.

Earlier today, Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed all remaining Covid restrictions are being lifted in England from next Monday.

But he urged millions of people to continue showing caution when this happens, adding the sharp recent rise in cases underlines the pandemic is still firmly with us.

England will be the first nation in Britain to lift the legal requirement to wear face masks and for people to follow social distancing rules in what has been described as “freedom day”.

But this is now being treated with greater wariness by the Government following the surge in cases and growing fears that there could be as many as 100,000 new infections each day later in the summer.

Mr Javid told ministers in the House of Commons the four crucial conditions to relax strict Covid restrictions had been successfully met.

These four tests are the continued success of the vaccine rollout, evidence vaccines are causing a reduction in hospital admissions and deaths, infection rates not threatening a spike in admissions, and no new Covid variants are risking progress being derailed.

He said: “Thanks to the shared sacrifices of the British people and the protective wall of our vaccination programme, we have made huge advances.

“We firmly believe that this is the right time to get our nation closer to normal life.

“It’s the start of a new phase of continued caution.”

But the recently appointed Health Secretary also warned: “Cases are rising, propelled by the new, more transmissible, Delta variant.

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“The average number of daily cases is over 26,000 and this has doubled over the past 11 days.

“And sadly the case numbers will get a lot worse before they get better – we could reach 100,000 cases a day later in the summer.”

He warned hospital admissions will rise even more but they are “far lower than they were at this point during the previous wave”.

Mr Javid added vaccines have “severely weakened” the link between people catching Covid and subsequently developing serious illness and possibly dying.

He also said a review would be launched in September “to assess our preparedness for autumn and winter”.

But Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused Mr Javid of adopting a “high-risk, indeed fatalistic approach” and “instead of caution he’s pushing his foot down on the accelerator while throwing the seat belts off”.

The Labour politician said several other countries have been forced to reintroduce restrictions.

Mr Javid replied: “There is no risk-free way forward and while opening up is not without risk, ongoing restrictions are not without cost.”

This is a breaking story. More to follow…

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