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Coronavirus: How worsening data have spooked No10 into delaying the end of England’s lockdown

Boris Johnson is today set to announce a four-week delay to the end of the Covid lockdown roadmap as experts fear the now-dominant Indian ‘Delta’ variant is on the cusp of triggering a third wave. 

Cases have spiked 50 per cent in a week across the UK and the number of people needing hospital treatment for Covid is rising slowly in its wake, with more than 1,000 people now on wards with the virus. 

Infections are mostly in the young, with rates up to seven times higher among people in their 20s than in the over-80s, and scientists and ministers are still confident that vaccines will keep a lid on the death toll.

But a single dose is no longer enough to protect most people from catching Covid and Mr Johnson must buy the NHS more time to get second jabs out to millions more middle-aged people, who are still at risk of hospitalisation.

The PM is expected to announce that curbs such as large event number limits, social distancing and unlimited indoor mixing will have to stay until at least mid-July and potentially until England’s school summer holidays. 

He hinted strongly at the delay when he said on Friday: ‘What everybody can see very clearly is that cases are going up and in some places hospitalisations are going up… We will be driven by the data, we will be looking at that and setting it out on Monday.’

Here is a look at the data that may have spooked him:    

The trend of total number of people in hospital has remained relatively flat, fluctuating between 800 and 1,100 for the past month but creeping upwards in the most recent week. Experts say the current surge in cases will see it tick up in the coming days and weeks. 

Public Health England data showed that in the week ending June 6 the highest infection rate was 121 cases per 100,000 people among those aged 20 to 29. Rates were also high in teenagers (99 per 100,000) and adults in their 30s (73). They are significantly lower among older age groups

Public Health England data showed that in the week ending June 6 the highest infection rate was 121 cases per 100,000 people among those aged 20 to 29. Rates were also high in teenagers (99 per 100,000) and adults in their 30s (73). They are significantly lower among older age groups

CASES ARE RISING ACROSS UK BUT BIGGEST SPIKES IN UNDER-30s 

Coronavirus cases have undeniably been rising in the UK, and quickly, in recent weeks after the ending of most lockdown rules on May 17 coincided with the takeover of the Indian variant.  

The average number of positive tests announced each day is now above 7,000 for the first time since the tail end of the second wave in March, after 7,490 cases were confirmed yesterday after 8,125 on Friday.

There were 50,017 cases confirmed between Monday and Sunday last week, a 50 per cent spike from 33,496 the week before.

But a ray of hope among the rising infections is the fact that cases are up to 17 times higher among young adults than they are in the at-risk elderly, suggesting vaccines are protecting older people.

Public Health England data showed that in the week ending June 6 the highest infection rate was 121 cases per 100,000 people among those aged 20 to 29. Rates were also high in teenagers (99 per 100,000) and adults in their 30s (73).

But they were significantly lower in the middle-aged and elderly, with the lowest rate in over-70s, at 7 per 100,000, followed by 14 per 100,000 among people in their 60s and 32 per 100,000 in people in their 50s.

And while the rate had doubled in just a week in people in their 20s, it rose by only 17 per cent in the over-80s, showing most of the surging epidemic at the time was in young people. 

HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS ARE CREEPING UP WITH VARIANT HOTSPOTS LEADING THE WAY 

Hospital admissions are creeping up across the UK and more notably in Delta variant hotspots. 

The increase has been significantly slower than cases – there was a 15 per cent increase in the most recent week, from 875 new admissions by June 1 to 1,008 in the week to June 8 – but this is likely an effect of the lag between someone getting infected and then getting sick enough to need hospital treatment.

The real test of how well vaccines will taking pressure off hospitals will come in the next week or two, when there has been enough time – two to three weeks – since the spike in cases to see what happens. 

Professor Neil Ferguson, Imperial College London epidemiologist and member of SAGE, said scientists were hoping the ratio of cases to hospital admissions could be cut by 85 per cent from the pre-jab rate of around nine per cent.

In the most recent data, for June 8, there were 187 people admitted to hospital with Covid in the UK, the highest since April 14. By Thursday, June 10, there were a total of 1,089 patients in hospital.

The trend of total number of people in hospital has remained relatively flat, fluctuating between 800 and 1,100 for the past month but creeping upwards in the most recent week. Experts say the current surge in cases will see it tick up in the coming days and weeks.

Places where infection rates with the Delta variant are comparatively high – Bedfordshire, London, Birmingham, Manchester and East Lancashire – had the highest admission rates in the most recent data but even those, the worst-hit hospitals, still had only five patients admitted on June 6. 

INTENSIVE CARE CLOSE TO 2021 LOW BUT RISING SLOWLY WITH NORTH WEST WORST HIT

The number of patients with Covid in intensive care remains low in the UK, with only 158 people critically ill in hospital by June 10.

This figure rose slightly compared to previous weeks but the trend has been broadly flat – the lowest point of 2021 was 119 on May 29, just two weeks ago, after it fell from over 4,000 in late January. 

More detailed information for England, up to June 8, showed that 47 out of a total 140 intensive care patients were all in the North West. 

Just two Indian variant hotspots East Lancashire and Bolton hospitals accounted for 21 of these patients – 15 per cent of the country’s total, or one in seven.

The delay between cases and the need for intensive care is even longer than it is between people getting infected and getting admitted to a general hospital ward, so these numbers could begin increasing in the coming weeks. 

But the vaccines are also expected to have an effect on the number of people who become gravely ill. While the jab should stop most people from ending up in hospital at all, even those who do end up in hospital do not seem to be as sick as they used to be.

Chief of the NHS Providers union, Chris Hopson, said last week: ‘What chief executives are consistently telling us is that it is a much younger population that is coming in, they are less clinically vulnerable, they are less in need of critical care and therefore they’re seeing what they believe is a significantly lower mortality rate which is, you know, borne out by the figures.

‘So it’s not just the numbers of people who are coming in, it’s actually the level of harm and clinical risk.’

The increase ons by June 1 to 1,008 in the week to June 8 – but this is likely an effect of the lag between someone getting infected and then getting sick enough to need hospital treatment.

The increase in new admissions to hospital has been significantly slower than cases – there was a 15 per cent increase in the most recent week, from 875 new admissions by June 1 to 1,008 in the week to June 8 – but this is likely an effect of the lag between someone getting infected and then getting sick enough to need hospital treatment

All over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after 'freedom day on June 21 — but it will take until September for all adults to have had two jabs, MailOnline analysis can reveal

All over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after ‘freedom day on June 21 — but it will take until September for all adults to have had two jabs, MailOnline analysis can reveal


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