3 min read16 July
The number of daily Covid-19 cases has risen to more than 50,000 for the first time since the height of the winter wave of infections. The surge comes just days before the final restrictions are lifted across England.
New data from the NHS shows 51,870 new cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, the highest daily figure since mid-January and an increase of more 3,000 on the previous day.
The figures show that cases have surged by almost 35% in the previous 7 days with 277,995 people across the UK testing positive for the virus.
A further 277 people have died from the illness during the last week, a rise of 57.4% from the previous 7 day period.
The figures come just days before all remaining Covid restrictions in England are lifted, including an end to social distancing rules and the legal requirement to wear masks in public spaces.
The figures are consistent with estimates from health secretary Sajid Javid who said earlier this month that daily cases were likely to reach 50,000 by 19 July, and warned they could rise to around 100,000 later this summer.
But speaking on Thursday, England’s chief medical officer said the rise in cases could lead to hospitalisations reaching “scary numbers”.
“I don’t think we should underestimated the fact that we could get into trouble again surprisingly fast,” he said.
“I think saying the numbers in hospitals are low now, that does not mean the numbers will be low in hospital in five, six, seven, eight weeks time.
“They could actually be really quite serious.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already urged people to show “extreme caution” following the lifting of restrictions, despite having previously branded the final step in the roadmap as “freedom day”.
The data comes after new analysis from the Office for National Statistics estimated that one in 95 people across England were infected with the virus last week, up from one in 160 the previous week.
The new figures estimated that between 577,700 to 625,300 people were carrying the virus during the week ending 10 July.
But the surge in cases have increased fears that hospitals could be overwhelmed by an influx of new patients as they battle rising attendance rates.
Speaking to PoliticsHome, Adrian Boyle, vice president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine warned even a small number of additional Covid cases could be “very disruptive” to the NHS, adding the virus was “one heavy straw on the camel’s back”.
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