UK virus cases hit highest since Feb 5 amid 'grab a jab'
LONDON (AP) — The U.K. on Saturday recorded its most new coronavirus infections since early February as the National Health Service ran a “grab a jab” initiative to further drive up vaccination rates.
Government figures showed that another 18,270 people tested positive for the virus across the U.K, the highest daily number since Feb. 5. Over the past week, nearly 100,000 have tested positive, a near 50% increase compared to the week before. That has raised questions over whether lockdown restrictions will end as planned.
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 nearly all the new cases in the U.K.
Most of the new confirmed cases are among younger age groups which haven't yet received COVID-19 vaccines. The latest spike came as hundreds of walk-in vaccination sites, including at stadiums and shopping centers, opened in England over the weekend in a bid to boost vaccine numbers, particularly among those younger age groups.
"This is a phenomenal achievement and it’s fantastic to see so many young people coming forward for their jabs, doing their bit to protect themselves and their loved ones," Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said.
The spread of the variant upended the Conservative government's plans to lift all remaining restrictions on social contact in England this week. The plan is to lift those restrictions on July 19, but whether it will do so could largely depend on whether the vaccine rollout has created a firewall that protects the most vulnerable. The other parts of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern...