Covid cases surge again: Will there be another lockdown?

Highlights

  • On Monday, new Covid cases reported in the UK were 49,156, highest reported since 17 July this year.
  • The UK government is relying on the success of vaccination programme to avoid imposing fresh restrictions again this winter.

 The Downing Street has said that the coming months could be tough as Covid-19 cases are again on the rise and reached their highest level since July this year. The country has repeatedly proclaimed its mass vaccination programme, hailing its early approval of jabs to overcome the pandemic.

In the last two weeks, new COVID cases in UK were between 35,000 and 40,000. This week on Monday, it touched 49,156, highest reported since 17 July, which is about 16% surge over the past seven days. The new cases are only 19,000 short of the peak number of cases ever recorded in the country. The daily death count has exceeded 100 since the summer, adding to an overall toll of more than 138,000, second only to Russia in Europe.

Hospitalizations and deaths have also surged, with 5,561 people admitted to hospital since last week. This is up by 6.9% from the last week. Deaths reported within 28 days of testing positive were up by 11.4% since last week.

Scientists and researchers have already warned that underlying coronavirus cases could overburden the state-run National Health Service in autumn and winter months.  France and Germany are already recording 4,000 and 10,000 cases everyday respectively, with deaths around 30 and 60 everyday.

Also read: Merck’s drug raises hope for oral COVID-19 treatment

Vaccination and children

Vaccination rate among school students is very low in the UK and masks are no longer compulsory. However, the UK government may reintroduce masks as cases are going up by the day.

The surge in cases may be a concern for teachers and parents as around one in 10 children between 7 and 11 years have the highest COVID positivity rate in England. Despite this, around 75% of schoolchildren are yet to receive their first dose of vaccine. In Scotland, take-up among schoolchildren is already above 50%.

In France and Germany there are more people in intensive care units with Covid as compared to UK, however, overall numbers in hospital are same in France and Britain at around 7,000. Hospitalization cases have dropped in France in recent weeks, but in contrast the UK has seen a significant surge.

Also read: Sydney re-opens after four months as Aussies decide to live with COVID-19

Mitigation Measures

The UK has used the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is believed to be less effective in preventing Delta variant as compared to mRNA vaccines including Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech primarily used in Europe. About 41% of people vaccinated have received a booster shot raising further questions on the government and the effectiveness of the follow-up programme.

According to a survey conducted by YouGov, around 15% of people in UK say they never wear a mask in public, and in Europe it was about 5%. Also, more people in the UK are returning to large gathering and public transport as compared to Europe.

Another lockdown in sight?

The UK government wants the economy to revive and is relying on the success of vaccination programme to avoid imposing of another lockdown or restrictions again this winter.

On 19 July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced easing of remaining restrictions in England and since then the Covid cases are on the rise, prompting the government to announce a fresh set of restrictions to counter rising cases.

According to the ‘Plan A’, no further restrictions with be reimposed in winter and there will be no limit on social gathering. However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned that a ‘Plan B’ should be implemented and recommended people to wear masks in crowded places to address the spread of Covid-19 cases.

Although the Boris government has said that the plan will only be imposed when there is unsustainable pressure on the National Health Service. The government has already defined Plan A and B to address the situation in winter, and if needed even tougher measures will be implemented.   

Also read: When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available for adolescent under 12 year

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