The UK has been facing a fresh wave of COVID cases, along with a rise in hospitalisations and deaths. Yesterday (18 October), they reported over 48,000 new cases—the highest they’ve seen since mid-July.
UK’s fresh COVID crisis
Even though the country was one of the fastest to get a majority of their adult population double-jabbed, a number of factors have now been slowing down their progress. Their vaccination rate has significantly dropped in comparison to their counterparts in Western Europe, and their COVID booster program has also been struggling to take off. John Roberts, from the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group told The Daily Telegraph that only by the end of January, will the 22 million people, who are eligible, receive the booster.
Simultaneously, this time around, COVID cases have been exceptionally higher amongst younger populations, especially those below the age of 18. The vaccination rate in this age group is also lagging behind. As reported by Mail Online, only 15% of 12 to 15-year-olds have had their first dose so far. This is especially concerning given that one in ten children contracted the virus last week.
Lack of restrictions
Another contributing factor to the recent up tick in cases could be because the UK has relaxed most of their COVID restrictions.Residents are no longer legally required to wear a face mask in indoor settings or on public transportation.
On the other side of the English Channel, France is still mandating people to wear face masks on public transport and in all indoor settings that do not ask for a COVID vaccination pass, and they have had an average of 4,600 new cases in the past week.
Given the devastating situation, experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) are now urging the government to bring back some restrictions to ease the burden on the NHS.
In September, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did unveil a ‘Plan B’ in the case that infections do surge. His plan included reintroducing face masks, vaccine passports, and working from home. However, last night, his spokesperson confirmed that they were not going to bring back those measures any time soon but added that they were ‘keeping a very close watch on the latest statistics.’