Covid hospitalisations rise 57 per cent and cases jump 30 per cent week-on-week

Britain’s Covid hospital admission continued to spiral today, with infections also increasing by a third in a week as experts called into question the July 19 date for ‘Freedom Day’.

Hospitalisations jumped 57.3 per cent in a week on Tuesday — data released today revealed — reaching 563, the largest daily admission number since early March.

And Department of Health bosses posted another 32,367 cases today, up 32 per cent on last Saturday’s figure of 24,855. It was the fourth day the UK recorded more than 30,000 daily cases in a row. 

Meanwhile, Covid deaths also increased by 62.7 per cent — up from 18 last Saturday to 34 today. 

The troubling figures came as a medical chief today warned Britain should not return to normal on July 19 because a 15-month NHS backlog combined with a third wave of cases is putting doctors under pressure.

Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Professor Helen Jayne Stokes-Lampard said it would be ‘dangerous’ to ‘throw away all the precautions’ on Freedom Day in just over a week’s time.

The academic also urged the public to be aware that the Covid pandemic is ‘far from over’ and to take a ‘responsible approach’ when restrictions are eased.

But, in more promising news, SAGE advisers famed for their more gloomy predictions yesterday said they expect Covid cases in England will ‘plateau and then fall’ within weeks with vaccines, natural immunity, seasonality and behaviour change driving the outbreak down.

The claim — unveiled in a tranche of documents published yesterday — came amid fears infections will continue to spiral over the coming weeks, with England’s progress to the final of Euro 2020 blamed on a surge in cases. 

Some 88,675 first vaccine doses were dished out yesterday , taking the UK’s total up to nearly 45.8million people — 87 per cent of the adult population. A further 166,883 second doses were given, with 65.6 per cent of adults now fully protected against the virus.

In fresh documents it emerged that modelling produced by the government's SAGE modelling committee Spi-M underestimated hospital admissions by over a third

In fresh documents it emerged that modelling produced by the government's SAGE modelling committee Spi-M underestimated hospital admissions by over a third

In fresh documents it emerged that modelling produced by the government’s SAGE modelling committee Spi-M underestimated hospital admissions by over a third

Covid cases soar in Spain and Portugal as Delta variant takes hold – just as millions of Brits prepare to fly there when virus restrictions ease on July 19 

Covid cases are soaring in Spain and Portugal now the Delta variant has taken hold, just as millions of Brits prepare for their holidays after July 19.

Double-jabbed Britons will now be able to travel to amber list countries — which currently include the two nations on the Iberian peninsula — without isolating on return from Freedom Day in just over a week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced yesterday.

Under the new rules, vaccinated travellers to green and amber list destinations only need to pay for a lateral flow test before travelling home and a PCR test on or before day two of return. Children aged five and over will also need to be tested.

But Spain and Portugal are both experiencing a surge in cases not far behind the UK’s, which recorded 35,707 positive tests yesterday, with the average number of cases now starting to rival levels seen in January. Spain’s spiralling cases prompted officials to urge people not to cancel their holidays in the country.

Cases per 100,000 have doubled in Spain in the last week, rising from 157.1 to 315.7 from July 2 to 9. The infection rate has also rose 39 per cent to 252 per 100,000 in Portugal during the most recent week. 

Meanwhile, France, Germany and Italy — all of which are also on the amber list — have yet to see such a drastic pick up in cases. The case rate is 48.9 per 100,000 in France, 16.3 in Italy and just 8.1 in Germany.

On Thursday, France’s secretary of state for European affairs Clément Beaune advised people to ‘avoid Spain and Portugal as destinations’ when booking their holidays because the French government is considering restrictions on travel to their neighbours.

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said the current surge is not translating into more hospitalisations and urged people to be ‘proportionate’ in their response to pandemic trends.

‘This is a time for prudence, not for panicking,’ she said at a press conference in Madrid. ‘There is no reason at the moment to ask people to cancel their vacations.’

Malta, one of the most popular tourist destinations for Brits this summer thanks to its place on the green list, has now announced it is banning all visitors from entering the country unless they are double jabbed from next Wednesday.

There has been a spike in infections on the island which the medical association is partly blaming on Malta’s place on the green list, which meant travellers were not required to isolate on return, regardless of vaccinations status. 

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Meanwhile, in fresh documents it emerged that modelling produced by the government’s SAGE modelling committee Spi-M miscalculated hospital admissions by over a third.

Estimates on June 28 predicted approximately 275 daily admissions by around July 6 when in reality there were 461 people admitted on July 7, reports The Times.

Boris Johnson is expected to ‘tone down the Freedom Day rhetoric’ and urge the public to behave sensibly while confirming the July 19 reopening on Monday. 

Speaking this morning, Professor Stokes-Lampard told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘I have been profoundly concerned for a week or two since talk of July 19 is ramping up. 

‘There seems to be a misapprehension that life will return to normal from then and that we can throw away all the precautions, and frankly that would be dangerous.

‘The rising number of cases, the rising number of people requiring hospital treatment and intensive care, and sadly the number of deaths are beginning to rise again too.

‘We all want to make sure that the public is aware that this pandemic is far from over. And that when the 19th comes we need a responsible approach and a very cautious approach to relaxing restrictions. 

‘We’ve heard some pretty alarming reports of companies saying ‘all restrictions are removed, everyone back in the office , sitting close to each other, no masks indoors. 

‘And I do feel that is going to add fuel to the fire of this current quite dangerous wave that we’re in.’

The rate of new cases of coronavirus in most areas of England is now back at levels last seen during the winter.

Patient numbers have risen to levels last seen around three months ago.

And there has been a very slight increase in the average number of deaths reported each day of people in England who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

But this is still far below the sort of numbers seen in January and February of this year.

The academic continued: ‘The previous waves were high pressured in a different way. What we’ve got at the moment is we’re dealing with the backlog that’s built up over the last 15 months. We all know the record number of people waiting for operations and for investigations. 

‘And also we’re seeing a sudden spike in the number of young children requiring hospital attention and people having infections that they didn’t have before.’  

The Chair of the National Academy for Social Prescribing added: ‘It feels in hospitals and GP surgeries like the middle of winter with how busy we are. Rather than July, when we would normally see a low number of infections.

‘[Staffing] is a massive problem we’re seeing now. Partly because of the number of children who’ve been sent home from school and are isolating. The infection is running rife in young people. That inevitably means that healthcare workers are having to self-isolate following national guidance. 

‘But that means that the rest of the staff are under increasing pressure. And we’re seeing hospitals cancelling operations, cutting back. We’re seeing GP surgeries starting to cut back again on the more routine services they provide.’  

Covid cases have soared in Spain and Portugal after the Delta variant took hold, just as millions of Brits prepare for their holidays after July 19

Covid cases have soared in Spain and Portugal after the Delta variant took hold, just as millions of Brits prepare for their holidays after July 19

Covid cases have soared in Spain and Portugal after the Delta variant took hold, just as millions of Brits prepare for their holidays after July 19








PHE's weekly update also revealed that every local authority in England saw a rise in Covid infections last week except three, as the third wave of infections continues to surge. The three areas where infections dropped were Blackburn with Darwen, where there is a suggestion the outbreak may have already peaked after it was hit hard by the Indian variant, Wokingham and Salford

PHE's weekly update also revealed that every local authority in England saw a rise in Covid infections last week except three, as the third wave of infections continues to surge. The three areas where infections dropped were Blackburn with Darwen, where there is a suggestion the outbreak may have already peaked after it was hit hard by the Indian variant, Wokingham and Salford

PHE’s weekly update also revealed that every local authority in England saw a rise in Covid infections last week except three, as the third wave of infections continues to surge. The three areas where infections dropped were Blackburn with Darwen, where there is a suggestion the outbreak may have already peaked after it was hit hard by the Indian variant, Wokingham and Salford

The NHS Covid app issued more than 350,000 pings last week, which was the most since the Government began publishing data at the start of February

The NHS Covid app issued more than 350,000 pings last week, which was the most since the Government began publishing data at the start of February

The NHS Covid app issued more than 350,000 pings last week, which was the most since the Government began publishing data at the start of February

 

England's Covid R rate may now be as high as 1.5 — the highest it has been since the second wave spiralled out of control in October, Government scientists have announced

England's Covid R rate may now be as high as 1.5 — the highest it has been since the second wave spiralled out of control in October, Government scientists have announced

England’s Covid R rate may now be as high as 1.5 — the highest it has been since the second wave spiralled out of control in October, Government scientists have announced

SAGE member Dr Mike Tildesley also said higher cases ‘challenge the virus’ and give it the opportunity to mutate into a form which could make vaccines less effective.

He told Times Radio: ‘We need to be careful. We can’t just say once we’ve broken the link between cases and hospital admissions that we are pretty much safe and no-one gets really sick so it’s fine to have a big wave of cases.

‘Of course the more cases you have, particularly with high levels of vaccine protection, that does then kind of challenge the virus a little bit more and gives more potential for it to mutate into a form where the vaccines are less effective.’

Boris Johnson may tone down ‘Freedom Day’ rhetoric ahead of July 19 reopening

Boris Johnson is expected to urge the public to behave sensibly while confirming the July 19 reopening on Monday.

Several sources told the Guardian that the government is most likely to go ahead with the easing of restrictions in just over a week’s time, but will tone down the ‘Freedom Day’ rhetoric.

Two Whitehall insiders said internal polling had sparked concern amongst ministers, but one source added that it would be ‘political suicide’ to U-turn.

It was also admitted that despite the Prime Minister’s warning to the public not to be ‘demob happy’ at a news briefing last Monday, the message became ‘slightly lost’ amid the announcement of restrictions being eased.

As of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 35,707 lab-confirmed Covid cases in the UK, the Government said, the highest daily increase since January 22.

A further 29 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the UK total to 128,365.

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Asked about so-called vaccine passports for entry to pubs, restaurants, and nightclubs, he said there is a danger of ‘potentially marginalising members of society who maybe don’t have access to the vaccine that others do’.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said in a statement: ‘There is little doubt that things will get worse before they get better.’  

It follows several sources telling the Guardian that the government is most likely to go ahead with the easing of restrictions in just over a week’s time, but will tone down the ‘Freedom Day’ rhetoric.

Two Whitehall insiders said internal polling had sparked concern amongst ministers, but one source added that it would be ‘political suicide’ to U-turn.

It was also admitted that despite the Prime Minister’s warning to the public not to be ‘demob happy’ at a news briefing last Monday, the message became ‘slightly lost’ amid the announcement of restrictions being eased.

No 10 suggested on Friday that NHS staff could be made exempt from self-isolation if they are ‘pinged’ by the Covid app in order to help workforce levels.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said it sounded like ‘a sensible next step’.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, welcomed the idea of an exemption and suggested another option would be to bring forward, for NHS staff, the August 16 date from which the Government has proposed to end all quarantine for the double-jabbed who get a negative PCR test result.

Mr Hopson said: ‘Having spoken to trust leaders, we concluded that, given the current severe impact on service delivery, it is right for the Government to review their current proposed approach on self-isolation as it affects NHS staff. We are pleased that they are listening carefully to these concerns.

‘It’s important to remember that nearly all NHS staff have been vaccinated and that they were amongst the first groups to receive vaccinations. There are therefore various options available here.’

However Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: ‘The NHS is in crisis as Covid admissions climb, cancer treatments delayed, waiting times increase and pressures intensify.

‘Sajid Javid has no plan to support NHS staff through the summer. Their only response is to talk about removing the batteries from the smoke alarm by watering down the NHS app and looking at ID cards for pubs.

‘Boris Johnson’s recklessness in throwing all caution to the wind is creating a summer of chaos.’ 

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