Daily coronavirus cases in the UK have soared by 141 per cent in a fortnight, with hospital admissions rising by a quarter in a week and 18 additional deaths being reported
The UK has reported 24,885 new cases of coronavirus – the highest increase on a Saturday since January – and a further 18 deaths in the latest 24-hour period.
A total of 4,879,616 people in the UK have now tested positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday morning.
It is the highest daily total since 33,552 confirmed cases were reported on January 23 as the UK emerged from its second wave of the pandemic.
Saturday’s figure of 24,885 is a rise of 36 per cent from a week ago, when 18,270 infections were announced on June 26, and a jump of 141 per cent on the 10,321 cases reported a fortnight ago.
The seven-day total of confirmed cases has gone up by 67 per cent on the previous week, with 164,290 positive test results in the seven days to Saturday.
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Hospital admissions increased by 24 per cent in the seven days to June 29.
The Government’s official death toll increased to 128,207 fatalities within 28 days of a positive test. Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
There have been 118 deaths in the last seven days, a decrease of one compared with the previous week.
Saturday’s total of 18 is down from 23 a week ago, a decline of 21 per cent.
A total of 33,402,028 people have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
Meanwhile, proposals to scrap quarantine requirements for those who have received two doses of a Covid vaccine are under “consideration”, the Government has confirmed.
Downing Street said it was looking at whether to drop all legal self-isolation measures for fully vaccinated people who come into contact with someone who is infected “as part of the post-Step 4 world”.
It comes after EuroJournal reported that a meeting of the Covid operations committee will take place on Monday at which ministers are expected to sign off a plan that will mean those who have been double-jabbed will be “advised”, after so-called “freedom day” on July 19, to take daily tests but not be required to do so.
A scientific adviser, however, said the problems associated with such an exemption “outweigh the potential benefits” and warned that it could cause “resentment”.
Professor Robert West, a health psychologist who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which advises Sage, told Times Radio: “The most serious problem is that if you have a situation where not everyone has been even offered the vaccine then you’ve already got clearly a huge unfairness.
“When you get unfairness in situations like this, you get resentment and when you get resentment you can get loss of compliance.”
But Professor West’s assertion has been challenged by other medical experts who said it would be “perfectly OK” to allow those who are fully inoculated more freedoms.
Dr Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer in communicable diseases at the University of Exeter, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that vaccines were breaking the link between cases, hospital admissions and deaths, meaning “we can start thinking about other uncoupling measures, such as no need to quarantine after being fully immunised”.
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Epidemiologist Professor Christophe Fraser, who advised the Department of Health on test and trace, said a “midway” proposal could be that those who have received both jabs are tested every day instead of undertaking a quarantine period.
The Oxford University academic said he agreed the self-isolation policy “needs to be reviewed in light of the data on the vaccine effectiveness”.
The debate about extra rights for those who have been vaccinated is playing out amid a background of an “alarming” rise in Covid-19 cases in England.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that about one in 260 people in private households in England had Covid in the week to June 26 – up from one in 440 in the previous week and the highest level since the week to February 27.
The increase has caused leading doctors to urge the Government to keep some restrictions in place in England after July 19 in a bid to stem the rate of infection.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said that keeping some protective measures in place was “crucial” to stop spiralling case numbers having a “devastating impact” on people’s health, the NHS, the economy and education.
Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty, according to EuroJournal, has privately predicted that the use of face coverings will continue to be needed after the Prime Minister’s “terminus date” for unlocking.
Downing Street said no decision had been made on whether work from home guidance could remain in place after social distancing measures have been eased following speculation to that effect in the press.
The reports follow Health Secretary Sajid Javid refusing to confirm, when asked to by MPs in the Commons this week, that all restrictions will be scrapped at Stage 4 of the road map out of lockdown.