Britain’s daily Covid cases breach 50,000 BEFORE Freedom Day

Britain’s daily coronavirus cases breached 50,000 today for the first time since the depths of the second wave in January, amid warnings that another lockdown could be just around the corner.

Department of Health figures show the number of positive tests (51,870) has risen by 45 per cent in a week. 

Hospitalisations and deaths are now both rising steadily following the ferocious surge in cases, which top experts blamed on the relaxation of restrictions and Euro 2020.

Fatalities jumped by two-thirds in a week as another 49 victims were added to the Government’s official toll. And admissions have hit their highest level since March, with 717 infected patients needing medical treatment on July 12, the most recent day figures are available for. 

But there are signs that pressure on hospitals may be slowing down even though the crisis is still unfolding, with the week-on-week growth having fallen slightly for five days in a row. 

However, pressure on the NHS will continue to get worse over the next few weeks as cases have yet to show any signs of slowing. Analysts tracking the health service’s battle say the current figures are already outpacing some of SAGE’s worst-case scenarios.

Vaccines have already saved thousands of lives since the third wave began, drastically slashing the proportion of infected patients who are left seriously ill. But jabs aren’t perfect, and admissions will continue to track upwards in line with infections.

Major hospitals have already had to cancel operations to cope with the third wave, while one in South Tyneside — the country’s Covid hotspot — has begged staff to cancel holidays and offered a £250 bonus in order to fight the impending summer crisis. 

Office for National Statistics data — based on swab testing of thousands of people — released today revealed an estimated one in 33 people were infected with the virus in Manchester last. The rate stood at one in 95 across England.

With infections still surging across the country, there are fears the ‘pingdemic’ chaos will only get worse. MailOnline analysis suggests  in a worst-case scenario around six million adults could be in isolation by the end of the month.

And a minister today warned that Britain will ‘of course’ face a new lockdown if Covid’s third wave hits ‘unacceptable’ levels.

Solicitor General Lucy Frazer suggested it was the right time to open up because of the success of the vaccination drive — which has reached 90 per cent of Britons.

But with cases continuing to soar, she warned No10 may be left with no choice but to consider reimposing tough restrictions. Ms Frazer said: ‘Of course, if we get into a situation where it is unacceptable and we do need to put back further restrictions, then that of course is something the Government will look at.’ 

The ‘pingdemic’ IS on course to paralyse England: Up to SIX MILLION people could be told to stay at home every week by end of July 

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

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

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

England could be economically paralysed within weeks without action to halt the Covid app ‘pingdemic’ forcing hundreds of thousands of workers to stay at home.

Analysis by MailOnline suggests that in a worst-case scenario around six million adults could be in isolation by the end of the month. 

Ministers were warned that factories could be forced to start closing today and consumers could see shortages of some foods because there are not enough staff to carry out key functions amid skyrocketing coronavirus infection rates.  

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released this morning estimated the number of people infected with the virus in the week ending July 10 was 577,700, up 73.5 per cent in just a week. 

One in 95 people in England had Covid last week according to the official data based on thousands of swab tests. 

But because the Bluetooth phone app ‘pings’ all those who have been in close contact with them, the number of people self-isolating at home at any one time is far higher.

Unlike those people contacted by phone, it is not a legal requirement to self-isolate after being pinged by the app. But Downing Street today made it clear it expects people to do so. 

It raises the prospect of the economy grinding to a halt due to a chronic last of available workers, even after the lockdown is supposed to have ended on Monday. 

Business leaders and trade unionists from across all sector of the economy lined up to warn the Government that a major rethink is needed today, because the current situation is not sustainable. A fifth of all private sector workers are currently having to self-isolate, according to industrial analysis.

Meat workers are in talks with the government about emergency exemptions for their workers who are pinged by the app – but as of this afternoon no deal had been announced. 

There were also a series of warning from NHS representatives who warned that the pingdemic is taking a toll on medical services across the country – with one trust asking staff to postpone their holidays. 

But ministers and Downing Street rebuffed them, insisting the app was vital and would not be removed until the middle of next month.

Solicitor General Minister Lucy Frazer admitted the Government recognises the ‘significant impact’ it is having, but said it remained an ‘important tool’ in the fight against Covid-19.  

Downing Street also declined to confirm reports that workers in vital industries like food preparation and butchery could get exemptions planned for NHS workers.

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In other Covid news:  

  • France could be moved to the ‘red list’ amid a surge of South African ‘Beta’ variant cases that scientists fear could make vaccines less effective;
  • Britons fully-vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s Covid jab may be up to three times more likely to suffer symptoms of the virus than those who got Pfizer’s, according to SAGE estimates
  • Test and Trace app pings neighbours through walls if their phones are too close despite people having no face to face contact
  • Thousands of independent shops are set to disappear from the High Street after debt soars five-fold to £2billion because of the pandemic;
  • Bridgerton series two filming is halted after crew member tests positive for Covid, according to reports.

chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty last night cautioned the UK could still ‘get into trouble again surprisingly fast’ and hospitals may face ‘scary numbers’ within a matter of weeks. 

Making it clear the country was not on an irreversible path to freedom despite No10 pushing ahead with step four of the roadmap to normality on Monday, Professor Whitty said: ‘We are not by any means out of the woods yet.’

Boris Johnson has already dropped all mention of the final unlocking being ‘irreversible’. The Prime Minister has resorted to caution, calling on people not to ‘go wild’ and immediately rush to take advantage of the final easing — which includes lifting work-at-home orders and reopening nightclubs. 

Cases have spiralled over the past few weeks, with scientists blaming the easing of restrictions and young men gathering to watch England’s Euro 2020 campaign for the uptick. 

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released today estimated one in 95 in England had Covid last week, with infections rising 73.5 per cent to 577,7000.

Vaccines have already saved thousands of lives since the third wave began, drastically slashing the proportion of infected patients who are left seriously ill. But jabs aren’t perfect, and admissions have been tracking upwards for a fortnight.  

Almost 560 infected patients are being admitted to NHS wards each day now, compared to fewer than 100 before the Indian Delta variant took off in mid-May. The current trend in figures is above some of the gloomiest estimates from SAGE, who warned hospitalisations could breach 4,000 a day in August.  

It comes after health chiefs yesterday posted another 63 deaths, in the highest daily rise since March, and 48,553 cases.

Saying restrictions should be eased on July 19, Ms Frazer told Sky News: ‘I think the Health Secretary has been very clear, as has the Prime Minister, that we will see infections rise.

‘But the reason why restrictions are being taken away is because of the vaccination programme, which will protect people when those infections do rise.

She added: ‘We are going into the summer, a large number of people have been vaccinated, we’ve had a really tough time, we’re still asking people to take responsibility and we do need to ask ourselves, if we don’t open up now, when will we be able to open up?

‘It is really important that we get the balance right between ensuring that we keep this virus under control and we take the necessary clinical measures to do that, but that we also recognise that there are consequences of not opening up and not allowing people to go about their daily lives.’

Professor Whitty warned yesterday that Britain is ‘not out of the woods yet’ and could face another lockdown within weeks.

Speaking at a Science Museum event, he said: ‘I don’t think we should underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again surprisingly fast. We are not by any means out of the woods yet on this,.

‘[But] we are in much better shape due to the vaccine programme, and drugs and a variety of other things.’

He called on Britons to ‘take things incredibly slowly’ after July 19, amid warnings from transport operators across the country that they will still ask people to wear face masks next week. 

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data — based on random swab testing of thousands of people — the number of people infected with the virus in the week ending July 10 was 577,7000, up 73.5 per cent in a week

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data — based on random swab testing of thousands of people — the number of people infected with the virus in the week ending July 10 was 577,7000, up 73.5 per cent in a week

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data — based on random swab testing of thousands of people — the number of people infected with the virus in the week ending July 10 was 577,7000, up 73.5 per cent in a week

In a more positive sign, SAGE today estimated England's R rate is between 1.2 and 1.4, down from last week's figure of between 1.2 and 1.5

In a more positive sign, SAGE today estimated England's R rate is between 1.2 and 1.4, down from last week's figure of between 1.2 and 1.5

In a more positive sign, SAGE today estimated England’s R rate is between 1.2 and 1.4, down from last week’s figure of between 1.2 and 1.5

England’s Covid hotspots where up to one in every 33 people are infected: official data says cases jumped by 75% in a week across nation 

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data — based on random swab testing of thousands of people — estimated the number of people infected with the virus in the week ending July 10 was 577,7000, up 73.5 per cent in a week

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data — based on random swab testing of thousands of people — estimated the number of people infected with the virus in the week ending July 10 was 577,7000, up 73.5 per cent in a week

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data — based on random swab testing of thousands of people — estimated the number of people infected with the virus in the week ending July 10 was 577,7000, up 73.5 per cent in a week

Up to one in every 33 people are infected with Covid in parts of England, official data revealed today amid warnings from ministers the country will face another lockdown if third wave doesn’t stop spiralling soon.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data — based on random swab testing of thousands of people — estimated the number of people infected with the virus in the week ending July 10 was 577,7000, up 73.5 per cent in a week. One in 95 had Covid across the country, the data revealed — with Manchester the worst affected area.

Rates were highest in the North East of England, where up to one in 40 were thought to be infected, and among 18- to 24-year-olds, with up to one in 35 young adults carrying the virus.

Around 60,000 people in Scotland had the virus, while 8,400 people in Wales and 6,300 in Northern Northern Ireland were thought to be infected.

Meanwhile, SAGE today estimated England’s R rate — which measures how quickly the outbreak is growing — is between 1.2 and 1.4, slightly down from last week’s figure of between 1.2 and 1.5. It means, on average, every 10 people with the virus will infect between 12 and 14 other people. 

The figures come as a minister today warned the country would ‘of course’ face a new lockdown if infections hit ‘unacceptable’ levels.

Solicitor General Lucy Frazer suggested it was the right time to open up because of the vaccination drive — which has reached 90 per cent of Britons.

But with cases continuing to soar, hospital admissions tracking above some of SAGE’s worst-case projections, and deaths having hit a four-month high, she warned that No10 may be left with no choice but to consider reimposing tough restrictions.

Cases have spiralled over the past few weeks, with scientists blaming the easing of restrictions and young men gathering to watch England’s Euro 2020 campaign for the uptick. 

Vaccines have already saved thousands of lives since the third wave began, drastically slashing the proportion of infected patients who are left seriously ill. But jabs aren’t perfect, and admissions have been tracking upwards for a fortnight. 

Almost 560 infected patients are being admitted to NHS wards each day now, compared to fewer than 100 before the Indian Delta variant took off in mid-May. The current trend in figures is above some of the gloomiest estimates from SAGE, who warned hospitalisations could breach 4,000 a day in August.

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‘If you look over what people have done, and in fact if you look at what people intend to do now, people have been incredibly good at saying, ”I may be a relatively low risk, but people around me are at high risk, and I’m going to modify my behaviours”,’ he said.

Professor Whitty also warned the country was running the risk of seeing ‘vaccine escape variants’ that could push the UK ‘some way backwards’ into the worst days of the pandemic.

Modelling released by SAGE showed they were expecting fewer than 500 hospitalisations due to Covid at this time.

But official figures reveal the country is already recording more hospitalisations than were predicted by experts at Imperial College London and Warwick, which advised No10’s top scientists.

But hospitalisations are still level with those predicted by experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which tends to have the gloomiest estimates.  

Some scientists have already blamed Euro 2020 for driving a ferocious surge in cases, after people crowded together in pubs and homes to watch the matches and tens of thousands of fans packed inside Wembley for England’s six home games in London.   

Experts have also speculated England’s cases could start to fall after the national team’s dramatic defeat to Italy on penalties in the final last Sunday. Scotland saw its outbreak start to fall when it crashed out of the competition early. 

PHE’s weekly surveillance report yesterday revealed cases are now at their highest levels since the pandemic began among teenagers, who are likely to have only had one dose of the vaccine. Rates were highest in the North East and Yorkshire, which have become the biggest hotspots for the Indian variant since the third wave took off.  

Separate data from Test and Trace showed infections surged 43 per cent last week after another 194,005 people tested positive for the virus. 

Despite the daily metrics pointing towards a growing epidemic, one surveillance study today suggested the third wave may have already peaked. 

King’s College London scientists behind the symptom study 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. 

Professor Tim Spector, who leads the study, said infections may now be beginning to ‘plateau’ but the rate of decline was slower than during the second wave.

The study also found almost half of all cases are now among people who have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, which Professor Spector said may have happened because the virus was ‘running out’ of un-vaccinated people without previous immunity to infect.

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.

It comes after a study yesterday 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.   

Two regions of England are recording their highest rate of new Covid cases since comparable figures began in summer 2020, when mass testing was first introduced across the UK.

The North East recorded 835.8 cases per 100,000 people in the week to July 11, while Yorkshire and the Humber recorded 462.7 per 100,000, according to the latest Covid-19 surveillance report from PHE.

All other regions are recording their highest rate since January. Case rates are also rising for all age groups, with 20 to 29-year-olds recording the highest rate of 747.3 cases per 100,000 people.

It is the highest rate for this age group since the week to January 10. Both five to nine-year-olds (297.3 cases per 100,000) and 10 to 19-year-olds (729.1) are recording their highest rates since comparable figures began.

It comes amid reports France could be moved to the ‘red list’ in a massive blow for UK holidaymakers.

The move would force Brits returning from or transiting through the country into mandatory hotel quarantine on their return, even after July 19.

Scientists are currently reviewing data from across the channel amid a surge in the South African or beta variant of the disease.

France is currently on the UK amber list, meaning that from Monday, double-jabbed Brits would be allowed to holiday there without having to isolate on their return. 

Covid hospitalisations are above the levels estimated by SAGE for mid-July, at 559 on average. SAGE says there could be 2,000 a day in August when they think the second wave will peak

Covid hospital admissions (red dots) are tracking the estimates by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. They had three models estimating how hospitalisations would rise if Britons took a long time to go back to pre-pandemic behaviours (blue line), a moderate amount of time (green line) or went back to normal just after ‘Freedom Day’ (red line)

Public Health England data showed 10,267 more young men than women were infected over the last two weeks, with the gender gap having widened since the tournament kicked off

Public Health England data showed 10,267 more young men than women were infected over the last two weeks, with the gender gap having widened since the tournament kicked off

Public Health England data showed 10,267 more young men than women were infected over the last two weeks, with the gender gap having widened since the tournament kicked off

At the peak of the first wave last March, more than two thirds of Covid deaths in England and Wales were among the over-80s. But since the beginning of the year, the proportion of people in the age group dying from the virus has been trending downwards, making up as little as 40 per cent of deaths in recent weeks

At the peak of the first wave last March, more than two thirds of Covid deaths in England and Wales were among the over-80s. But since the beginning of the year, the proportion of people in the age group dying from the virus has been trending downwards, making up as little as 40 per cent of deaths in recent weeks

At the peak of the first wave last March, more than two thirds of Covid deaths in England and Wales were among the over-80s. But since the beginning of the year, the proportion of people in the age group dying from the virus has been trending downwards, making up as little as 40 per cent of deaths in recent weeks

This graph shows the proportion of people who catch Covid that are dying from the disease by age group. At the beginning of the pandemic, the risk was around 10 per cent (0.10) for over-75s, but was as low as 2 per cent (0.02) for those aged 65 to 74The rate has fallen markedly among older people, since the vaccine roll-out began in January

This graph shows the proportion of people who catch Covid that are dying from the disease by age group. At the beginning of the pandemic, the risk was around 10 per cent (0.10) for over-75s, but was as low as 2 per cent (0.02) for those aged 65 to 74The rate has fallen markedly among older people, since the vaccine roll-out began in January

This graph shows the proportion of people who catch Covid that are dying from the disease by age group. At the beginning of the pandemic, the risk was around 10 per cent (0.10) for over-75s, but was as low as 2 per cent (0.02) for those aged 65 to 74. The rate has fallen markedly among older people since the vaccine roll-out began in January, but the risk of dath is still higher for over-65s

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has seen its number of Covid patients increase eight-fold since the end of June

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has seen its number of Covid patients increase eight-fold since the end of June

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has seen its number of Covid patients increase eight-fold since the end of June

By May 29, the Delta strain was linked to 77.7 per cent of cases in England

By May 29, the Delta strain was linked to 77.7 per cent of cases in England

In the two weeks leading up to June 5, the Indian variant was responsible for 88.8 per cent of infections

In the two weeks leading up to June 5, the Indian variant was responsible for 88.8 per cent of infections

By the end of May, the Indian mutation caused 77.7 per cent of cases across England, while the once-dominant Kent strain was responsible for just 21.8 per cent

By June 12, the Delta strain was responsible for 90 per cent of all cases in England

By June 12, the Delta strain was responsible for 90 per cent of all cases in England

In the two weeks up to June 19, 96.8 per cent of all cases were caused by the Indian variant

In the two weeks up to June 19, 96.8 per cent of all cases were caused by the Indian variant

The Indian ‘Delta’ variant is now dominant in more than 300 areas of England, MailOnline’s analysis of testing data reveals. Figures show the ultra-transmissible strain had overtaken the formerly dominant Kent variant in 303 local authorities by June 12 — just two months after it was seeded in the country 

In the two weeks up to June 26, 98.7 per cent of all cases were caused by the Delta variant

In the two weeks up to June 26, 98.7 per cent of all cases were caused by the Delta variant

By July 3, 99.3 per cent of all cases in England were linked to the Indian strain

By July 3, 99.3 per cent of all cases in England were linked to the Indian strain

The Indian variant is now responsible for almost all Covid cases in the country, with the most recent estimates from the Sanger Institute stating that 99.3 per cent of all cases in the two weeks up to July 3 were caused by the more infectious mutation

But that would not apply to travel to red list countries, which currently include India, Pakistan, Brazil and Turkey.

The Telegraph reported that the move was discussed at a meeting this week that saw the Balearic Islands moved from the green to amber list.

Scientists have been ordered to take a ‘deep dive’ into data from France before such a serious decision can be taken.

A decision could be taken as early as Monday. But Boris Johnson has previously refused to red list France due to the high level of cross-Channel goods traffic that could potentially be disrupted.

Yesterday air industry bosses today blasted the Government’s ‘on and off again’ decision-making after Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca were axed from the green list, despite having lower Covid rates than the UK.

The move by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to demote the Balearic Islands to the amber list of foreign destinations on Wednesday sparked fury from travel experts, MPs and holidaymakers.

EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren accused ministers of a ‘double standard where (foreign) travel is treated differently to the domestic economy’.

Covid hospital admissions are rising in FOUR FIFTHS of trusts in England – but proportion of beds taken up by virus patients is still only 9% in the worst affected area in Birmingham

Four-fifths of NHS hospitals in England are now seeing a spike in Covid patients being admitted, official data has shown as the third wave of the pandemic continues to take its toll ahead of ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday. 

MailOnline analysis of NHS England data show how the number of infected patients needing medical treatment has soared by four-fold in some of the worst-hit parts of the country.

And hospitalisations have doubled in 29 of the 123 NHS trusts across England that are capable of treating the infected.

But the proportion of beds occupied by infected people in Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust — currently the worst-hit NHS facility in the country — is still only 9.25 per cent, with trusts not yet swamped with virus patients.

For comparison, hospitals in Kent saw nearly 45 per cent of all beds occupied by Covid-infected Brits during the darkest days of the second wave in January.  

The figures come with Britain on the brink of breaching the 50,000 daily cases mark as infections close in on levels seen at the start of the year. 

Hospitalisations are also rising in line with surging cases, with NHS England data showing 486 Covid admissions on July 13 — the latest date regional data is available for. For comparison, the week before the figure stood at 383. 

Mounting pressure on the health service is being fuelled by the ‘pingdemic’, with huge numbers of NHS staff  being forced to self-isolate. 

Health bosses in Sunderland have already asked staff to postpone holidays as the trust came ‘under extreme pressure’ due to a surge in coronavirus cases. Staff at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust — dealing with one of the highest infection rates in the country — are seeing hospital cases doubling week-on-week.

Four fifths of NHS hospitals in England are now seeing a spike in Covid patients being admitted, official data has shown as the third wave of the pandemic continues to take its toll ahead of 'Freedom Day' on Monday

Four fifths of NHS hospitals in England are now seeing a spike in Covid patients being admitted, official data has shown as the third wave of the pandemic continues to take its toll ahead of 'Freedom Day' on Monday

Four fifths of NHS hospitals in England are now seeing a spike in Covid patients being admitted, official data has shown as the third wave of the pandemic continues to take its toll ahead of ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday

Hospital asks staff to postpone holidays 

Health bosses in Sunderland have asked staff to postpone holidays as the trust came ‘under extreme pressure’ due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

Staff at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust – dealing with one of the highest infection rates in the country – are seeing hospital cases doubling week-on-week.

In an internal note to staff earlier this week, bosses said there were 80 Covid-19 patients receiving hospital treatment compared with just two exactly a month before.

The message started: ‘The Trust is currently under extreme pressure due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

‘Many people are seriously ill and receiving intensive care support.’

The surge in cases and rapid spread in the community meant the trust has had to ask for staff’s help, the memo said.

It asked for staff to work additional shifts, with a £250 bonus for staff who could work an extra week of overtime spread over the next six weeks.

They were told they would need to be flexible and might need to work outside their normal area.

And they were asked: ‘If you are due to take annual leave but feel able to postpone this to help support the Trust’s Covid-19 response, please talk to your line manager ASAP.’  

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The NHS England data revealed Sandwell and West Birmingham had the highest Covid bed occupancy in the country. Fifty-three of the trust’s 573 beds were taken with Covid patients on July 13.

It was followed by trusts in Gateshead (9.15 per cent), Bolton (8.25 per cent) and Southport (8.04 per cent).

Regionally, the North West had the highest rate in the country at 4.35 per cent, while at the other end of the scale came the East of England (1.17 per cent).

Admissions rose quickest in Whittington and Berkshire, which both saw more than four times as many Covid patients on July 13 as the week before.

And the highest number of beds in use by people infected with the virus was in Manchester University Hospitals Trust, in which 111 of 1,853 beds were taken — six per cent of its capacity.

Twenty six trusts saw their number of Covid patients drop including trusts in Buckinghamshire, East Kent and Cambridge.

It comes after MailOnline revealed four out of 10 patients hospitalised with the Indian Covid variant in England may have been admitted for something else.

Fewer people are becoming severely ill thanks to the vaccines. Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said that by next winter ‘most cases admitted with a positive test will not be admitted because of Covid’.

But despite hope the surge in cases won’t result in more hospitalisations, England’s Chief Medical Officer yesterday admitted the country may have to face new restrictions within weeks. 

Professor Whitty said Britain is ‘not out of the woods yet’ and could face another lockdown within weeks.

Speaking at a Science Museum event, he said: ‘I don’t think we should underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again surprisingly fast. We are not by any means out of the woods yet on this,.

‘[But] we are in much better shape due to the vaccine programme, and drugs and a variety of other things.’

He called on Britons to ‘take things incredibly slowly’ after July 19, amid warnings from transport operators across the country that they will still ask people to wear face masks next week. 

Infection rates on July 11
Infection rates on July 4
Slide me

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

‘If you look over what people have done, and in fact if you look at what people intend to do now, people have been incredibly good at saying, ”I may be a relatively low risk, but people around me are at high risk, and I’m going to modify my behaviours”,’ he said.

Professor Whitty also warned the country was running the risk of seeing ‘vaccine escape variants’ that could push the UK ‘some way backwards’ into the worst days of the pandemic.

He warned that the number of people being treated in hospital with Covid-19 could reach “quite scary” levels within weeks.

The Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine issued a joint call to exempt double-jabbed NHS staff from isolation over close contacts.

‘The risk of patients contracting Covid from vaccinated healthcare staff is minimal compared to the damage that patients could suffer by having their treatment delayed,’ a statement said.

‘Without this exemption in place, the NHS will not be able to address the waiting lists. We encourage the Government to not wait until August to free vaccinated healthcare workers from the isolation rules – we need this to happen now.’

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said the hospital trusts the organisation represents are increasingly concerned over dealing with the care backlog ‘with large numbers of staff unable to work’.

‘We know that national leaders are working hard to find a solution to this problem. The key is that this solution is delivered as a matter of urgency,’ he added. 

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