COVID-19: UK records 39,906 new coronavirus cases and 84 more deaths

·3-min read

The UK has recorded 39,906 new COVID-19 cases and 84 more coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period, according to government data.

The cases figure is slightly down on last Thursday's, although the number of deaths is up 33% on last week.

For comparison, 44,104 new infections and 73 fatalities were announced on Wednesday, and 48,553 cases and 63 deaths were reported this time last week.

According to the most recent data, hospitalisations are also up.

Some 788 COVID patients were admitted to hospital on 18 July and 5,175 were admitted in the last seven days - a 31.1% weekly rise.

Since the pandemic began, a total of 128,980 people in the UK have died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia, said Thursday was the first time reported case numbers had been lower than the same day the previous week since early May.

"They represent a 18% drop. Also the week-on-week percentage increase in cases has fallen from a peak of 43% last Sunday to just 24% today."

But he added that it is still too early to say if cases are slowing.

He said: "It is still too early to see any impact of the relaxations of Monday 19 and some of the reduction in cases will be because of many children no longer being tested as regularly now schools are closed.

"I would caution that this may just be a temporary slowing in reports before we start to see a return to exponential growth towards the end of next week as a result of the ending of restrictions last week".

Prof Hunter said we will not know for certain if the third wave is tailing off until 9 August - three weeks after so-called "Freedom Day".

"But there are some positive signs. If you look at the course of the Delta epidemic from early May it was clear that the rate of increase in cases was already slowing by June," he said.

Some 45,101 people had their first jab yesterday, meaning that 46,433,845 people - or 87.8% of the population - have now received at least one COVID vaccine dose in the UK.

Another 183,338 people had their second jab, bringing the total number of those now fully inoculated against coronavirus to 36,587,904 - equal to 69.2% of the population.

It comes as figures revealed more than 600,000 alerts were sent to users of the NHS coronavirus app in a week and retailers warned of possible shortages due to staff absence.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government risks "losing social consent" for isolation if it does not immediately bring forward the relaxation of quarantine rules for the fully vaccinated.

From 16 August, people who are a close contact of a positive test will be allowed to skip isolation if they are double jabbed, and they will be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible.

But there are fears that over the next month many services, like food production and emergency services, will suffer as increasing numbers of staff are forced to stay in self-isolation.

NHS figures showed a record 618,903 alerts were sent to users of the coronavirus app in England and Wales in the week to 14 July, telling them they had been near someone who had tested positive for COVID.

The government has said some workers classed as critical will be exempted from self-isolation but there is confusion over what jobs this will cover.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said a "very narrow" list of sectors whose workers will be exempt from isolation rules would be published later today, but Downing Street later suggested it would instead be "examples of the sectors where exemptions could apply".

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