LONDON – The latest wave of coronavirus infections in the UK accelerated on Thursday with new confirmed cases exceeding 10,000 for the first time in nearly four months due to the spread of the more contagious delta variant.
Government figures showed a further 11,007 cases were reported. This is the highest daily number since February 19, when 12,027 cases were recorded, and confirms that the country with the highest number of virus-related deaths in Europe is in the midst of a third wave of the pandemic .
The government’s chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, said the extent of the current outbreak is “still uncertain” but that it “will certainly result in more hospitalizations and, unfortunately, this will undoubtedly result in by new deaths “.
Daily cases have risen quite sharply in recent weeks after fluctuating around the 2,000 mark earlier. The delta variant, which was first identified in India and is considered by government scientists to be between 40% and 80% more transmissible than the previous dominant strain, accounts for around 95% of all new cases in the UK. United.
Most of the new confirmed cases are from younger age groups who have not yet received Covid-19 vaccines. The widely hailed UK vaccine rollout is being extended to all adults over 18 from Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed.
The spread of the variant has upset the government plans to lift all remaining restrictions on social contact in England from next week. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday delayed the decision until July 19, saying it was now “time to let go of the accelerator” so more people can get vaccinated and prevent thousands more deaths.
Johnson has expressed hope that by July 19, two-thirds of the UK’s adult population will be offered two vaccines, including all people over 50.
Government figures on Thursday showed 19 more people died after testing positive for the virus, the highest daily death toll reported since May 11. This brings the total number of deaths in the UK from the pandemic to 127,945, the highest in Europe.
In addition to warning of further near-term deaths, Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, said the country should prepare for new waves of the virus to come.
“In the medium term, I expect that we will get a new winter push, a late fall / winter push, and that’s because we know that winter and fall promote respiratory viruses, and therefore it would be very surprising if this particular highly transmissible respiratory virus was not favored either, ”he said in a speech to healthcare professionals.
Many blame the Conservative government for the surge in infections, saying it has acted too slowly to impose the most stringent quarantine requirements on everyone arriving from India, which has suffered a catastrophic resurgence of the virus.
The hope is that the vaccine rollout will reverse the last peak and allow the next easing of the lockdown. As of Thursday, around 63% of the British population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while around 46% had received two.
Analysis published Monday by Public Health England showed that two doses of the main vaccines used by the UK are very effective against hospitalizations due to the delta variant – 96% in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 92% for the vaccine AstraZeneca.