On Wednesday, Britain’s daily COVID cases sharply increased by 18%. More than 3000 cases were reported for the first time since April. That, coupled with the rising threat of the Indian variant has forced experts to question whether or not 21 June will in fact be the last stage of the roadmap to freedom. But despite the discouraging news, one thing remains certain—the success of the vaccination program leaves the UK in a ‘much better place’ than last December.
Current COVID situation
As the daily COVID cases are slowly creeping up in the UK, the number of COVID hospitalisations have been simultaneouslyincreasing as well. Official figures have indicated a 10% rise from 18 May to 24 May going from 895 to 954 admissions. Both cases and hospitalisations have been going up in towns where the Indian variant has been circulating. The variant has now touched almost half of the 343 local authorities in the UK.
Last stage to freedom in peril
Epidemiologist, Professor Neil Ferguson—aka 'Professor Lockdown'—has stated that the uncertainty around the variant has made it impossible to predict whether the easing of restrictions will go ahead in June. He said:
I think we're continuing to evaluate data. I think it's actually too early to say whether we will be able to go ahead with what was planned in the UK in mid June and the next step or whether the fourth stage of relaxation will need to be postponed or indeed, in the worst case, measures need to be tightened up.
We're getting more and more data every week, but we hope to be in a position to be more definitive about these answers in the next two to three weeks.
The silver lining is that while hospitalisations and daily cases are on the rise, the number of deaths have been declining steadily. Yesterday nine fatalities were recorded—15 less from the day before.