LONDON (AP) – The UK Government’s leading medical adviser has warned that the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus could reach “quite frightening” levels within a few weeks, as cases rise due to the more contagious delta variant and the lifting of lockdown restrictions.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty told a webinar hosted by London’s Science Museum late Thursday that Britain is not “out of the woods yet.”
“I don’t think we should underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again surprisingly quickly,” Whitty said.
New coronavirus infections in the UK are high in six months, according to government figures, and the number of hospitalized and dying people with COVID-19 is at its highest level since March. Thursday’s data showed 3,786 people in the hospital with COVID-19 and a further 63 virus-related deaths.
At the height of the second wave earlier this year, about 40,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, and deaths reached about 1,500 people a day.
A further 48,553 confirmed laboratory cases were reported on Thursday, the largest daily figure since January 15th. The government has warned that daily infections could hit 100,000 this summer, a level not previously reached during the pandemic, where most of the new cases are seen among younger people. age groups, many of which have not yet been vaccinated.
The British government, which lifted all remaining legal restrictions on social gatherings in England on Monday, hopes the rapid roll-out of vaccines will keep a lid on the number of people becoming seriously ill.
More than two-thirds of British adults have received both doses of a vaccine, and almost 88% have had one dose.
More cases will inevitably lead to more people needing the hospital’s attention, although vaccine deployment has helped build a wall of immunity around those considered to be the most vulnerable to disease.
Whitty warned that the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 doubles every three weeks and could reach “quite frightening numbers” if the trend continues.
“We are by no means out of the woods yet on this, we are in much better shape because of the vaccine program and medicine and a number of other things,” he said.
“But this has a long way to go in the UK and it is even longer to go globally,” he added.
The wave of infections has had a groundbreaking effect on the number of people isolating themselves after being in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case. More than 500,000 people were contacted by the National Health Service’s app and were told to isolate themselves in the seven days to 7 July.
Companies, including automakers, meat processors and hospitality sites, have reported staff shortages because so many employees have been told to quarantine the app.
The government has expressed concern about the scale of the problem and is investigating whether the app can be made less sensitive to reduce the number of pings.
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