Coronavirus cases in the UK have been rising rapidly. On June 17, the country recorded over 10,000 new confirmed cases for the first time in close to four months. The surge has been attributed to the spread of the Delta variant which is believed to be more contagious than the others.
As per government figures, another 11,007 cases were reported. The last time the UK recorded over 10,000 cases was February 19, when 12,027 cases were recorded. With Europe’s highest coronavirus-related death toll, the new data corroborates talk that the country is in the midst of a third wave.
Chief Medical Adviser to the UK government, Chris Whitty, stated that although the height of the current surge is uncertain, it “will definitely translate into further hospitalizations and, unfortunately, it will undoubtedly translate into further deaths.” After hovering around the 2,000-mark earlier, daily cases have increased considerably.
Approximately 95% of cases are attributed to the Delta variant, which was identified in India. Government scientists believe that the variant is 40% to 80% more transmissible than the earlier dominant strain. Younger age groups occupy a majority of the new confirmed cases and Health Secretary Mark Hancock announced that anyone above 18 years of age will be eligible to take the vaccine starting June 18.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has halted the move to lift all restrictions on social contact until July 19. The decision was made in a move to curb more deaths and allow more people to get vaccinated. By July 19, Johnson hopes that two-thirds of the country’s adult population will have taken two vaccine shots. Approximately 63% of the British population has had at least one dose of the vaccine as of June 16, while about 46% received two. Public Health England’s analysis has shown that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccines, which are available in the UK, have proven to be highly effective against hospitalization from the Delta variant.