GMB: Jeffrey Archer clashes with Ayesha Hazarika on Covid
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Cases of coronavirus are once more on the up ahead of June 21 – the so-called Freedom Day. On this date, the final easing of lockdown restrictions is pencilled to take place, but some have called for a delay as cases soar and the highly infectious Delta variant spreads.
The Government said as of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 7,393 lab-confirmed cases in the UK, adding seven more people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 127,867.
Now new figures show COVID-19 case rates have increased across every region in England.
There is an especially sharp rise in the North West, the data from Public Health England (PHE) shows.
The PHE weekly surveillance report published today shows rates in northwest England increased to 149.6 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to June 6.
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This figure is up week-on-week from 89.4, and is the highest for the region since the week ending February 21,
These numbers also put the North West with the highest rate of Covid of any region in England.
An analysis by the PA news agency of separate PHE data, published on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard on Thursday, shows the ten areas with the highest Covid rates in England are all in the northwest.
The data shows Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire continues to have the highest rate, with 937 new cases in the seven days to June 6 – the equivalent of 625.9 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up from 438.9 in the seven days to May 30.
Rossendale in Lancashire has the second-highest rate, up slightly from 310.6 to 327.4, with 234 new cases.
Hyndburn – also in Lancashire – has the third-highest, up from 191.3 to 320.8, with 260 new cases.
Southwest England has the lowest rate: 20.8, up week-on-week from 9.7.
Also telling are the latest NHS England figures, which show there were 906 Covid patients in hospital in England as of 8am on Thursday, up from 779 a week earlier and the highest number since May 12.
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PHE also said case rates have risen among almost all age groups in England.
There is a spike in rates amongst 20 to 29-year-olds, going from 54.0 in the week ending May 30 to 121.0 in the seven days to June 6.
This is the age group with the highest rate and the biggest week-on-week increase, while the second-highest rate is among 10 to 19-year-olds, up from 73.7 to 99.4.
Are we heading for another lockdown?
On Monday, June 21, the next easing of restrictions is due to take place – with the final limits on social interaction easing.
However, scientists and public figures have called on the Government to delay as cases soar and the highly infectious Delta variant spreads.
Now, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak is said to have accepted a delay to the final stage of the Government roadmap.
The Guardian reported Mr Sunak will accept a four-week delay in lockdown lifting.
And Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week there when it came to lockdown restrictions easing the Government faced a “challenging decision”.
While a delay in the latest restrictions may be on the cards, further restrictions being implemented has not been confirmed.
However, a “strengthened package of support” is being given for Greater Manchester and Lancashire, with 5.7 million people told to meet outside, maintain social distancing and limit their travel outside areas with high levels of coronavirus.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has been at pains to stress these measures are “not a lockdown” but “advice”.
This comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the Delta variant – first identified in India – now makes up 91 percent of cases of coronavirus in the UK.
PHE medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “Once again we are seeing cases rapidly rise across the country and the Delta variant is now dominant.
“The increase is primarily in younger age groups who are yet to receive the vaccine and we are seeing more hospital admissions.
“The vaccine rollout is a huge success, however, there are many millions who still need one or two doses and protection is not immediate.
“Therefore, follow the guidance and remember it is safer outside. Practise good hand hygiene and wear face coverings in enclosed spaces.”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick warned on Wednesday cases are “clearly rising”, telling Sky News: “The Prime Minister is reviewing the data, and more data is coming in, which is very important.
“We created this five-week period between the stages of the road map and that has actually proved invaluable on this occasion because it’s a finely balanced decision.
“We need to see that data of cases, which are clearly rising, but the link to hospitalisations and ultimately to death.
“So the Prime Minister is reviewing that ahead of the decision point, which is going to be June 14 – at that point of course he will let everybody know what the ultimate decision is.”
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