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UK Covid-19 cases pass 50,000 for the first time since January

EUROPE
By Reuters | July 16th 2021

United Kingdom on Friday, July 16, recorded 50,000 new Covid-19 cases for the first time since January.

According to the government stats, 51,870 cases were recorded and 49 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the UK total to 128,642.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there have now been 154,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is removing most pandemic restrictions in England from July 19, saying a rapid rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has largely broken the link between infections and serious illness or death.

Some scientists are worried, though, with daily reported cases are over 50,000 for the first time since January, and the reproduction "R" number remained above one, indicating a continued exponential growth of cases.

"We are not by any means out of the woods yet on this," Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said late on Thursday during a webinar hosted by the Science Museum.

He added that the doubling time for hospitalisations was around three weeks and that low numbers of people in the hospital could escalate in the next couple of months.

"It doesn't take many doublings until we're in actually quite scary numbers again ... I don't think we should underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again fast," Whitty said.

The Office for National Statistics Infection Survey, which estimates prevalence and is not sensitive to fluctuations in daily tests, showed that 1 in 95 people in England might have been infected with Covid-19 in the week to July 10.

Wrecking the economy

Britain's Covid-19 death toll is among the highest in the world but two-thirds of its adult population has been fully vaccinated.

On Monday, the last remaining businesses still closed in England, including nightclubs, can finally reopen, but business leaders have warned that the self-isolation requirement for people exposed to positive cases could hinder the economy.

Over 520,000 contact tracing alerts were sent through the National Health Service app in the week to July 7.

"On Monday we're going to have a situation where we're opening up the economy and closing down the economy at the same time," Karan Bilimoria, president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), told LBC radio.

"The hospitality sector, 20 per cent of staff are isolating, the health service up to 25 per cent of staff are absent, and buses and trains delayed. This cannot go on ... This is wrecking the economy."

A spokesperson for Johnson said that "self-isolation remains one of the best tools that we have to tackle the virus."

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