'Will get worse,' say experts as UK COVID-19 cases surge
Coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom are spiralling as the highly-contagious Delta variant has become dominant there. On Friday, the country reported 35,707 COVID-19 cases - the highest daily figure since January 22. The surge comes even as the British government prepares to lift most of the coronavirus-induced restrictions on July 19, which experts say could prove to be dangerous.
UK has one of the highest per capita cases
On an average, the UK has been reporting about 410 cases per million people over the past week - one of the highest cases in the world per capita population.
UK planning reopening from July 19
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government have branded the July 19 reopening "Freedom Day," as most pandemic-related curbs will come to an end. Johnson says it is time the Britons learn to live with the virus. Relying on UK's high vaccination rate, he said, "Scientists are also absolutely clear that we have severed the link between infection and serious disease and death."
What relaxations will come into force?
The relaxations that have been announced include: Fully vaccinated UK residents coming to England from certain countries will no longer have to quarantine. Fully vaccinated people will not have to isolate even if a close contact tests positive for COVID-19. There will be no limit on attendance at weddings and funerals. However, a final call on reopening will be taken on Monday, July 12.
Experts fear the outbreak will get worse
However, experts are worried about the July 19 reopening as they fear there would be around 50,000 daily cases by that date. Prof. Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, told BBC, "There seems to be a misapprehension that life will return to normal from then and that we can throw away all the precautions and, frankly, that would be dangerous."
'Need a very cautious approach to relaxing curbs'
"We all want to make sure that the public is fully aware that this pandemic is far from over and that when the 19th comes, what we need is a responsible approach and a very cautious approach to relaxing restrictions," Stokes-Lampard added. UK has at least partially vaccinated over 86% of the country's adult population while over 64% adults have been fully inoculated there.