UK records over 10,000 virus cases for first time since Feb
LONDON (AP) — The U.K.'s latest surge in coronavirus infections gathered pace Thursday with new confirmed cases rising above 10,000 for the first time in nearly four months as a result of the spread of the more contagious delta variant.
Government figures showed another 11,007 cases were reported. That's the highest daily number since Feb. 19, when 12,027 cases were recorded, and cements talk that the country with Europe's highest virus-related death toll is in the midst of a third wave of the pandemic.
The government’s chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, said the height of the current surge is “still uncertain” but that it “will definitely translate into further hospitalizations and, unfortunately, it will undoubtedly translate into further deaths.”
Daily cases have risen fairly sharply over the past few weeks after fluctuating around the 2,000 mark earlier. The delta variant, which was first identified in India and is considered by government scientists to be between 40% to 80% more transmissible than the previous dominant strain, accounts for around 95% of all new cases in the U.K.
Most of the new confirmed cases are among younger age groups which have not yet gotten COVID-19 vaccines. The U.K.’s widely praised rollout of vaccines is being extended to all adults over the age of 18 starting Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed.
The spread of the variant upended government plans to lift all remaining restrictions on social contact in England starting next week. On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed the move until July 19, saying now was the “time to ease off the accelerator” so more people could get vaccinated and prevent thousands more deaths.
Johnson laid out his hope that by July 19, two-thirds of the U.K.’s adult population will...