Britain’s daily Covid cases surged 36 per cent in one week – but the country’s death toll has plummeted by a fifth as vaccinations keep hospitalisations low.
A further 24,885 people tested positive for coronavirus today, up from 18,270 last Saturday and the sixth day in a row the daily figure has surged above 20,000.
But the 18 deaths recorded today mark a drop of 21.7 per cent on the 23 recorded on this day last week.
It is a positive sign that jabs are keeping the number of serious cases small.
The latest data shows there were 358 people admitted to hospital with the virus on June 29 – up 54 per cent on the last week.
Despite the rise, current levels are a fraction of the number of people in hospital the last time infections were this high at the end of the second wave.
Meanwhile, fully-vaccinated Britons are expected to within weeks be free to live as normal after coming into contact with a coronavirus sufferer.
NHS Covid app means hospitality staff walking around busy venues are particularly likely to receive notifications
Proposals to allow those with both jabs to carry on as normal without the need to self-isolate or take daily tests are ‘under consideration, the Government has confirmed, amid fears the current use of the NHS Covid-19 app could ‘cripple’ Britain.
Officials have admitted the suggestion carries with it a risk that unvaccinated people may ignore the rules, The Times reported.
Infections are predicted to increase by 26 per cent if the restrictions are lifted but the Government is expected to move ahead with the plans to avoid further disruption to businesses, schools and public services.
It comes after NHS staff blasted the Government’s track and trace system because a fifth of double-jabbed workers, and also millions of Britons, could be asked to self-isolate.
A meeting of the Covid operations committee on Monday is expected to see ministers sign off the plan to ‘advise’ but not require fully vaccination people to take daily tests if they are named as a contact to a coronavirus sufferer.
Cabinet minister hope the plan will allow them to better support those who test positive, following complaints the rules are not currently being followed because of an absence of financial support.
Nearly two million people a week could be forced to self- isolate by the end of the month unless ministers reform the rules
Dr Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer in communicable diseases at the University of Exeter’s medical school, said he thought it was ‘perfectly OK’ for people who had received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine to be exempt from quarantine measures.
Dr Pankhania told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The gold standard would be to be cautious even if you have been immunised twice – in other words, fully immunised.
‘However, as a measured action going forward I think it is OK and my reasons are as follows: an immunised person is less infectious and furthermore the testing of people who are in quarantine isolating is pretty inaccurate, so balancing both, I think it is perfectly OK.’
Ministers want to introduce proposals to allow those with both jabs to carry on as normal without the need to self-isolate or take daily tests as soon as next month. Pictured, Boris Johnson
Asked whether he thought vaccines had broken the link between infections, hospital admissions and death, Dr Pankhania said: ‘You are absolutely right in that we are now noticing that while the case numbers have gone up, a proportionate similar rise in the number of hospitalisations and deaths has not occurred and therefore we feel that the vaccines are working and they are working really well at preventing people from entering ICU, ventilators and death.
‘Therefore, having uncoupled that, we can start thinking about other uncoupling measures as well, such as no need to quarantine after being fully immunised.’
Explaining his comments about testing being ‘pretty inaccurate’, he said quick-result lateral flow tests were giving a ‘false sense of reassurance’ to those testing negative.
But critics of the proposed system say most people will refuse to take daily tests, meaning compliance will go ‘out the window’.
Some 33.2million people, just under half of the UK population, had received both doses of the vaccine as of Thursday morning. The new system is expected to be implemented at the end of August so ministers can use the results of a trial to help guide policy. The trial has seen 40,000 people asked to take daily tests instead of self-isolating.
Vaccination nurse Lorraine Mooney gives a vaccination to a member of the public outside a bus in the car park of Crieff Community Hospital
Hospitality businesses are outraged by the delay to the proposals, and want the rules in place earlier to allow workers to continue serving without being told to self-isolate for ten days.
Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, said the NHS Test and Trace app was making it ‘very difficult’ for the hospitality trade to recover following the coronavirus lockdowns.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the company’s Edinburgh bar was currently closed due to an infection case, one of its Manchester bars had just undergone a shutdown of 10 days and some outlets were running with reduced hours due to a shortage of kitchen staff.
Mr Pitcher, whose company runs 66 bars, said: ‘At any one point at the moment, we’ve probably got 10-15 per cent of our estate in some form of closure. It is having a huge impact across our business and the industry at large.’
Euro 2020 could spark a new Covid-19 wave across Europe, WHO warns after German minister condemned ‘utterly irresponsible’ UEFA for allowing large crowds at matches
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned Euro 2020 could spark a new Covid-19 wave across Europe and has called for better virus monitoring of football matches in the tournament.
The warning comes as infections climb again in Europe, fuelled by the Delta variant that is racing around the globe.
Hundreds of cases have been detected among spectators attending Euro games across the continent, with carriers of the Delta strain detected in Copenhagen, and infected Scots and Finns returning from London and Saint Petersburg respectively.
In a bid to boost protection, UEFA has cancelled all tickets sold to UK residents for England’s quarter-final against Ukraine in Rome this weekend.
It follows German interior minister Horst Seehofer’s comments on Thursday condemning UEFA’s decision to allow more than 40,000 fans into Wembley Stadium to watch England play Germany.
Mr Seehofer slammed the decision as ‘absolutely irresponsible’ and suggested that UEFA’s position was motivated by money.
England defeated Germany 2-0 in Tuesday’s match which was attended by 41,973 spectators – the biggest in Britain since the pandemic began.