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COVID-19 cases rise in Britain as government plans to lift restrictions weeks earlier than expected

 COVID-19 cases rise in Britain as government plans to lift restrictions weeks earlier than expected

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Britain. The number of daily cases has more than quintupled over the past month. According to Public Health England (PHE) data released this week, case rates per 100,000 people continue to rise in all regions and age groups.

On May 17, the day most of the economy reopened, 1,979 cases of the coronavirus were reported. A month later, on June 17, the daily number of cases was 11,007: the highest in nearly four months. In the week ending Friday, 61,181 people tested positive, 15,286 more than the previous week.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Britain. The number of daily cases has more than quintupled over the past month.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a press conference regarding the Covid pandemic with Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Science Officer Sir Patrick Vallance at 9 Downing Street on June 14, 2021 (Photo: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street)

Deaths from the disease are increasing after finally reaching zero in Britain on June 1, thanks to the roll-out of the vaccination program and limited containment measures. In the past week, 72 deaths have been reported, an 18% increase from the previous week.

The R (reproduction) rate of the virus has jumped over the past week in England, from between 1 and 1.2 to between 1.2 and 1.4. The North West recorded the highest rate, between 1.3 and 1.5, while that of London fell from 1.1 to 1.4.

According to data compiled over the past seven days by Worldometers, and based on official government figures, the 34% increase in cases in the UK is exceeded only by Russia (40%) in Europe.

This increase is due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, which, just months after being detected in Britain, has become the dominant strain. Delta was first detected on April 1, but the government did not make its existence public until April 15. A PHE report released on Sunday found that Delta's cases had increased by 80% over the past week, accounting for 99% of all COVID cases in the country.

These numbers torpedo claims made in the media last week that viral infections were stabilizing. These claims were based on data from the ZOE Covid app. However, the scientist responsible for the application, Professor Tim Spector, has always downplayed the danger of the Delta variant. On May 20, Spector said the Delta variant "has not changed the numbers significantly," adding: "As outbreaks remain localized, numbers in the UK are stable and most cases appear benign, it is highly unlikely that the NHS will be overwhelmed or that this will prevent the release of containment [scheduled for June 21]. "

In reality, the surge in COVID cases was such that even Boris Johnson's government, which has overseen at least 152,000 deaths due to its herd immunity program, has not felt able to end all restrictions. on June 21, the parliament having voted on Wednesday to extend the deadline by one month.

Last week, Spector said: “The good news is that the rise is not as fast as it used to be ... It has been a much better week than last week. I think we can start to see the end of this little youth mini-wave and the extra time [after the government was forced to reverse the June 21 reopening] that we have should allow us to prevent that from happening. gets out of hand. ”

He concluded, “If we look at how the previous waves have come and gone, I predict this one should peak within 10-14 days and then start to decrease, so after four weeks, we will be at a much lower level than today, and much easier to manage. ”

In fact, the government is bracing for significant new waves of infections and deaths. Announcing the postponement of the final end of restrictions, Johnson said, "At some point we're going to have to learn to live with the virus."

Johnson said July 19 would be the "deadline" for a full reopening, justified by the fact that it would allow more people to be vaccinated and establish a "very considerable wall of immunity around the entire population. . "

This is ignoring the fact that millions of people, especially younger ones, will remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, allowing the virus to circulate in large numbers of people. Dr Susan Hopkins, Director of Strategic Response for COVID-19 at Public Health England, told the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday that the Delta variant would spread with an R of 5 to 7 if it there were no restrictions.

In addition to infecting unvaccinated people, with potential long-term health consequences, the virus will quickly find vulnerable people whose vaccines have not produced a strong immune response. It will have every chance to mutate again into an even more dangerous variant. Hopkins told the commission that PHE is currently monitoring 25 new variants, eight of which are under investigation.

What “learning to live with the virus” really means has been partially conceded by SAGE member Professor Graham Medley and government chief scientist Chris Whitty. Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today show whether the country could again experience hundreds of deaths a day, Professor Medley replied: 'Oh easily. I think it could happen again at some point. ”

Whitty said at the NHS Confederation conference: “I expect we will have another winter push, late fall / winter ... I think we need to be aware and prepare for the fact that next winter could be quite difficult. ”

Much of these consequences will fall on the working class, especially its poorer sections, as they have done throughout the pandemic. Mr Whitty added during his speech: “The geographies where COVID has hit have been extremely defined, where the biggest problems have been repeated.

"So you see situations in Bradford, Leicester, parts of London for example, parts of the North West, you see repeat areas where places have been hit over and over in deprivation areas."

In a shocking statement, given the government's responsibility for a pandemic response that amounts to social murder , Whitty noted: “Indeed, in a lot of them, if you compared a map of the greatest effects of COVID now and a map of child deaths in 1850, they would look remarkably similar. These are areas where deprivation has been prolonged and deeply entrenched. ”

Fifty-one Conservative MPs voted against any postponement of the June 21 date, including former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, 1922 commission chairman Sir Graham Brady, and chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of MPs Conservatives and former Chief Whip Mark Harper. Rebel MP Sir Desmond Swayne said of postponing the end to all anti-COVID measures: “I could understand that if we were a Communist Party, but it is the party that has inherited the real wisdom from the whig tradition. "

Under the headline “Could we be free on July 5?” The Daily Mail reported on Friday: “Downing Street opened the door to end restrictions on July 5, as there is mounting evidence that the assumptions used by government scientists to justify the postponement of Freedom Day were too pessimistic. ”

The newspaper quotes a government source who said: “The decision to delay the reopening was so finely balanced - possibly the most difficult decision in the entire pandemic - that the prime minister wanted the possibility of a formal reassessment built in so that if things change, we can act sooner. ”

The newspaper said in its editorial that “on the basis of the fear-mongering of scientists, lives are being destroyed. The economy is hampered, pubs and restaurants go bankrupt and jobs are lost. "

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