As Ryanair announces it is suing the UK Government over travel restrictions the UK reports highest number of new coronavirus cases since February with potential “winter surge” on the cards.
The UK has reported more than 11,000 new coronavirus cases, the highest number of daily infections since February of this year.
According to the latest government statistics, 11,007 positive cases were reported as of 4pm yesterday, alongside an additional 19 deaths.
The news comes as health secretary Matt Hancock announced that all over-18s would be invited for their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination from Friday, as the government races to offer the vaccine to all adults by July 19.
Meanwhile, data from Public Health England’s national flu and Covid-19 surveillance report indicates that infections have surged across England, with the North West region recording the highest case rates at 196.9 per 100,000 people.
Forty-two million people across the UK have now been offered their first dose of the jab, while 30m are fully inoculated with both doses.
Announcing the expansion of the vaccination programme in a speech to the NHS Confederation, Hancock also said that four out of every five adults in the UK have now been offered their first dose.
England’s chief medical officer has warned of a “winter surge” of coronavirus, even after the current rise in cases has died down, telling an audience of NHS staff that “Covid has not thrown its last surprise at us”.
Addressing the NHS Confederation annual conference, held virtually, Chris Whitty said the height of the current wave was “still uncertain” but warned that cases would continue to rise over the coming weeks.
The vaccination programme had “changed the ratio” between people being infected and the number being hospitalised and dying — both by protecting individuals and reducing transmission, he said. Future significant surges would be “much less of a problem”, he predicted.
He warned, however, that even when the current “exit wave” died down, “my expectation is that we will get a further late autumn or winter surge. That is because we know that winter and autumn favour respiratory viruses and therefore it would be very surprising if this particular highly transmissible respiratory virus was not also favoured.”
“We have to just be aware Covid has not thrown its last surprise at us and there will be several more over the next period.”
He also warned of a possible bad season for flu and other respiratory viruses this year — after a minimal one last year — unless a big Covid-19 surge resulted in people once again minimising social contact.
The coming winter “may be quite a difficult one” and “we in the NHS have to brace ourselves for that”, he added.