Covid: UK cases spike 62% in a week to 26,068 but deaths drop to 14 amid calls to ‘go quicker’

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Britain’s daily Covid deaths fell again today despite cases jumping by nearly 62 per cent in a week, as Tory MPs, businesses and teachers called on the Prime Minister to ‘go quicker’ and axe crippling self-isolation rules.

Department of Health bosses posted just 14 deaths, falling 26.3 per cent on last Wednesday’s figure of 19, in a clear sign of the vaccine effect in the face of climbing cases. 

There were 26,068 infections today — the highest daily total since January 24, when there were 30,004 cases — increasing 61.6 per cent in seven days from 16,135. Britain recorded 610 deaths on January 24, 44 times today’s fatalities.

The UK has breached 20,000 cases a day for the last three days, earlier seeing its previous highest figure since January on Monday, when it recorded 22,868 infections. 

Public Health Scotland revealed a total of 1,991 cases in Scotland have been linked to fans watching Euro 2020 football matches, with nearly two-thirds of those coming from people travelling to London to watch Scotland versus England on June 18. 

Mr Johnson said at PMQs at lunchtime that he ‘devoutly hopes’ that ‘freedom day’ will go ahead as planned on July 19 and that the vaccine rollout means ‘we have a higher wall of vaccination than virtually any other country in the world’. 

Britain dished out 137,991 first doses yesterday, taking the country’s total to 44.7 million — 84.9 per cent of the adult population. A further 150,688 second jabs were also given, meaning 32.9million (62.4 per cent) are fully vaccinated.

The PM is being urged to bring forward the easing of rules as data showed that while case numbers are rising, there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of hospitalisations and deaths.  

MailOnline analysis today revealed just one in 100 NHS beds were being taken up by Covid patients in England last week — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave, according to official figures. 

The latest NHS England figures show that out of the roughly 87,000 hospital beds at the health service’s disposal, fewer than 1,000 were being taken up by people suffering from coronavirus (1.1 per cent) on June 22.  

Just one in 100 NHS beds are currently being taken up by Covid patients in England — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave. Graph shows: The percentage of all hospital beds available to the NHS being taken up by Covid patients on June 22 this year (red bars) compared to on December 14 (blue bars), the last time infections were above 20,000 and rising

Just one in 100 NHS beds are currently being taken up by Covid patients in England — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave. Graph shows: The percentage of all hospital beds available to the NHS being taken up by Covid patients on June 22 this year (red bars) compared to on December 14 (blue bars), the last time infections were above 20,000 and rising

The rate of growth in hospital admissions has been falling for the last nine days, despite hospitalisations continuing to rise

The rate of growth in hospital admissions has been falling for the last nine days, despite hospitalisations continuing to rise

Calls for a swifter end to restrictions have grown after it emerged Chris Whitty backed the July 19 date, telling the Cabinet it should aim to ‘get as much open this summer as possible before winter’. 

The Chief Medical Officer reportedly signalled his support for lifting the remaining coronavirus curbs next month as he briefed Cabinet ministers on Monday.

Mr Whitty said the winter period is likely to be ‘much more difficult’ but sources claimed he had been ‘cautiously optimistic’. 

Anti-lockdown Tory MPs are adamant that the Government should have relaxed all remaining rules on the original June 21 date for the final stage of the PM’s lockdown exit roadmap. 

One Conservative MP told MailOnline: ‘I think we should be going quicker. The data were good enough to open up completely on June 21 and nothing I have seen has shifted that opinion. Most people are vaccinated now and those who are younger have a much lower risk of anything untoward happening. It is time to open up the economy.’ 

Another Tory MP echoed a similar sentiment as they said the data showed vaccines have ‘had the effect of breaking the link’ between infections and hospitalisations so the picture now looks ‘very positive’. 

Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure to speed up the nation's exit from lockdown as Tory MPs, businesses and teachers call on the Prime Minister to 'go quicker'

Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure to speed up the nation’s exit from lockdown as Tory MPs, businesses and teachers call on the Prime Minister to ‘go quicker’

The Government has insisted delaying ‘freedom day’ to July 19 will give the vaccine rollout more time to administer life-saving jabs to all UK adults.

Ministers have struck a significantly more bullish tone in recent days on ending restrictions with senior Government figures stressing the nation must now learn to live with coronavirus. 

Hopes of a return to normal life have further increased after it was revealed that ministers are set to shelve plans for the mandatory use of ‘Covid certification’ after July 19. 

Meanwhile, it has been claimed that fully-vaccinated Brits will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days after contact with a positive Covid case, with the quarantine requirement replaced with daily testing. 

And in a third piece of good news, school ‘bubbles’ are to be scrapped in a bid to stop a surge in Covid-related pupil absences.  

It had been thought that change would be made in time for the start of the next school year in September, but Gavin Williamson hinted at lunchtime that the policy could be scrapped from July 19.

Hospitality chiefs are calling on the Government to act now to improve the self-isolation policy to stop staff being taken out of action while teachers are also demanding a more rapid change on the bubbles issue.  

Chris Whitty has backed 'freedom day' going ahead on July 19 after it emerged he told the Cabinet it should aim to 'get as much open this summer as possible before winter'

Chris Whitty has backed ‘freedom day’ going ahead on July 19 after it emerged he told the Cabinet it should aim to ‘get as much open this summer as possible before winter’

People with two jabs ‘won’t have to isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with Covid sufferers from July 19’

People who are fully vaccinated won’t have to isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with Covid sufferers from July 19, reports claim.

Under current Covid rules, those alerted by Test and Trace that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus must self-isolate for 10 days.

However, Downing Street is reportedly hoping to overhaul this measure and instead require those with two jabs to take lateral flow tests each day for the same period.

This follows a successful pilot scheme which has been in place since April, the Sun reported. 

From July 19 – the long-awaited ‘Freedom Day’ – those who test negative during the 10 days will reportedly be able to leave the house. 

The latest coronavirus developments came as:   

  • Deenan Pillay, professor of virology at University College London, said that he did not see ‘much sense’ in changes to rules which will permit some business executives travelling to England from certain countries the right to temporarily leave self-isolation;
  • Professor Stephen Reicher, from the University of St Andrews and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) subcommittee on behavioural science, said the country was in danger of repeating last summer’s mistakes; 
  • Jon Deeks, professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham and lead of the Cochrane Diagnostic Covid-19 Test Reviews, said a lot of the use of lateral flow tests, including in schools, ‘isn’t based on good evidence’.

Mr Whitty told a Cabinet briefing at the start of the week that the Government is on course to press ahead with lifting the remaining coronavirus restrictions on July 19, according to The Times.

Coronavirus case numbers continue to rise, but there has not been a corresponding leap in hospitalisations, prompting growing optimism that vaccinations have broken the link between infections and serious illness, paving the way for life to get back to normal. 

A Cabinet source told the newspaper: ‘The view among the scientists was that we should get as much open this summer as possible before winter, which will be much more difficult. It was very encouraging.’ 

Another source said that the Chief Medical Officer had been ‘cautiously optimistic’. 

Government ditches its plans for Covid passports for major events

Covid passports will not be compulsory at music festivals, sports events and other mass gatherings when lockdown restrictions are lifted next month.

Ministers are set to shelve plans for the mandatory use of ‘Covid certification’ after Freedom Day on July 19.

Plans for pubs and restaurants had already been put on the backburner following a backlash from MPs and the hospitality sector.

The Mail can now reveal that ministers have also dropped the idea of imposing them on mass events. 

Organisers will, however, be permitted to run their own schemes, with the Premier League among those expected to introduce some form of certification to prove those attending football grounds do not pose a Covid risk. 

It comes after a number of ministers have said the country will have to learn to live with the virus in the coming months and years in a marked change in Government tone. 

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman yesterday compared the strategy to living with the flu which killed 22,000 people in England in 2017-18. 

The spokesman told reporters: ‘Cabinet agreed that once we have completed the road map, we will be able to live with Covid in the future even if cases continue to rise, thanks to the protections provided by the vaccine.’

The change in Government tone has coincided with the appointment of Sajid Javid as Health Secretary as he replaced Matt Hancock following his resignation at the weekend. 

Mr Javid is known to be more hawkish that his predecessor on the matter of lockdowns and restrictions and he said earlier this week that July 19 will be the ‘end of the line’ for curbs.

Statistics published yesterday showed there had been a further 20,479 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.

The Government said a further 23 people had died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the UK total to 128,126.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The easing of lockdown rules next month will include changing self-isolation rules for people who are fully-vaccinated, according to The Sun. 

Double-jabbed Brits will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days if they are pinged by NHS Test and Trace as a contact of a positive case. 

Instead they will be asked to take daily lateral flow tests, providing a result in 20 minutes, with a negative test allowing them to leave the house.

The Government has been running a pilot since April replacing quarantine with testing and ministers are now expected to rollout the policy across the nation. 

How jabs have tamed the third wave: Just one in 100 NHS beds now taken up by Covid patients in England compared to one in six at start of second surge in December

By Joe Davies for MailOnline 

Just one in 100 NHS beds were being taken up by Covid patients in England last week — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave, according to official figures that highlight the power of the vaccines. 

MailOnline analysis of the latest NHS England figures show that out of the roughly 87,000 hospital beds at the health service’s disposal, fewer than 1,000 were being taken up by people suffering from coronavirus (1.1 per cent) on June 22.

The low inpatient numbers are made more impressive by the fact average daily infections have risen to more than 20,000 due to an outbreak of the ultra-infectious Indian variant.

Professor Chris Whitty told a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday that hospitals will be able to cope fine after Freedom Day because of the protective ring the jabs have thrown around the population. 

The last time Britain was recoding more than 20,000 daily cases and the outbreak was rising was in the second week of December, at the cusp of the second wave. 

At that time one in six hospital beds across the health service in England (15 per cent) were being used by people struggling with the virus. 

Now, even the worst hit region — the North West — is only seeing 2.4 per cent of its beds full with Covid patients. Covid occupancy is lowest in the South West, where fewer than one in 220 beds are occupied by people with the virus. 

Britain’s positive test rate is also much lower than in the winter wave — down from five per cent in December to just two per cent now. 

The encouraging data comes as England’s normally-cautious chief medical officer threw his weight behind ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19 by saying the NHS can cope with the expected rise in admissions.

Professor Whitty warned prolonging curbs would lead to a worse peak in winter and encouraged ministers to push ahead with plans to ease restrictions next month.

Hospitality bosses are pushing for the Government to change to the testing system immediately because pubs and restaurants already hit by severe labour shortages are being forced to close due to staff being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app. 

They want the test and release scheme to be rolled out now to relieve the crisis, which last week saw 46 members of staff at a Wetherspoons in Weston-super-Mare forced to stay at home after coming into contact with positive cases. 

Small business are suffering the worst financial jeopardy, with one restaurant in Liverpool revealing it lost a quarter of its workforce over the weekend on top of an existing labour shortage caused by Brexit and employees quitting over lockdown. 

The nature of the NHS Covid app – which tells people to self-isolate if they have come within a certain distance of someone who later tests positive – means hospitality staff moving round busy venues are particularly likely to be pinged. 

Industry body UK Hospitality is calling on the Government to change the rules so staff can return to work after a negative test. 

Dave Critchley, executive chef and director at Lu Ban restaurant and bar in Liverpool, told MailOnline: ‘We lost five people over the weekend at minimal notice after they were pinged by the app. 

‘When you are only a small business anyway losing five members of staff meant we had lost a quarter of our workforce. 

‘It was already a monumental task to take on this year to make up all the money we lost from last year because we’ve still got last year’s rent and bills to pay.  

Meanwhile, Covid passports will not be compulsory at music festivals, sports events and other mass gatherings when lockdown restrictions are lifted next month.

Ministers are set to shelve plans for the mandatory use of ‘Covid certification’ after ‘freedom day’. 

Plans for pubs and restaurants had already been put on the backburner following a backlash from MPs and the hospitality sector. 

It has now been revealed that ministers have also dropped the idea of imposing them on mass events. 

Organisers will, however, be permitted to run their own schemes, with the Premier League among those expected to introduce some form of certification to prove those attending football grounds do not pose a Covid risk. 

Separately, the Government has all but confirmed that school ‘bubbles’ will be scrapped from September, with pupils tested daily instead. 

The bubbles policy has faced fierce criticism in recent days because it requires pupils to self-isolate if one of their peers tests positives for Covid-19. 

That has caused entire year groups to have to miss lessons, causing massive disruption to the school year. 

Statistics published yesterday showed the number of children away from school has quadrupled in a month. 

Last Thursday more than 375,000 – or one in 20 – was at home because of the virus.

The vast majority were isolating because they were part of a bubble with an infected classmate.

Analysis by Warwick University suggests Britain's daily hospital admissions would have surpassed 500 by June 22. In reality hospitalisations were just 227 at that date, with the rate of admissions in decline

Analysis by Warwick University suggests Britain’s daily hospital admissions would have surpassed 500 by June 22. In reality hospitalisations were just 227 at that date, with the rate of admissions in decline

Deaths normally spike by around 50 per cent in winter, when flu infection also peaks Graph shows the weekly number of all cause deaths (light blue) and weekly influenza-like illness consultation rates in primary care (dark blue) in England from 2004 to 2019

Deaths normally spike by around 50 per cent in winter, when flu infection also peaks Graph shows the weekly number of all cause deaths (light blue) and weekly influenza-like illness consultation rates in primary care (dark blue) in England from 2004 to 2019

UK economy shrank by 1.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 – more than previously thought

The UK economy contracted by more than was first thought in the first quarter of 2021 as coronavirus lockdown restrictions hit hard. 

Data published by the Office for National Statistics showed that UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have decreased by 1.6 per cent in the period between January and March. 

That is up slightly on the original estimate of a 1.5 per cent reduction.

It means that the level of GDP now stands at 8.8 per cent below where it was in the fourth quarter of 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic hit, revised from an initial estimate of 8.7 per cent.        

Despite the economic dip in the first three months of 2021, household saving levels again returned to record highs.  

The household saving ratio – the estimate of the amount of money that households can put away – increased to 19.9 per cent in the first quarter. 

Last night ministers said they would look at scrapping the current rules in time for the autumn term.

They are examining plans to abandon or water down the bubble system and replace it with a system of daily testing so pupils don’t have to isolate unless they are positive.

With the number of absences spiralling every week, some critics believe the Government should act now. 

But with just three weeks left of the school year, and with the final stage of unlocking not due before July 19, the changes are unlikely to be enacted until the autumn.

However, teachers are set to revolt over the plans, with unions describing the prospect of on-site testing centres as ‘something akin to field hospitals’.

In further good news, the UK’s NHS vaccination app is reportedly ready to be integrated with the EU’s version in a move which would pave the way for easier travel to Europe.

The app shows vaccination status, test status and whether someone has tested positive in the past 180 days. 

Britain and Brussels are currently in discussions focused on mutually recognising each other’s apps.  

Should the NHS app be fully recognised on the continent alongside the EU’s ‘green pass’ it should open up more quarantine-free holiday destinations for Brits. 

A senior industry source told The Telegraph: ‘We are technically ready to be integrated into the EU database that will recognise your digital NHS signature and allow you to demonstrate your Covid status.

‘There are some glitches with private test providers struggling to register their tests quickly enough but once those are resolved, all that is required is for the EU to allow non-EU countries to be integrated.’

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