COVID cases have today risen by 70 per cent in a week with a further 54,674 infections reported.
Deaths have increased by 41, bringing the total to 128,683.
Cases are slightly higher than yesterday’s figure of 51,870 – meaning today’s tally is the highest since January 15.
And the toll is 71 per cent higher than the 31,921 infections reported last Saturday, and significantly up on the 24,517 recorded a fortnight ago.
Deaths are up on the 34 reported last Saturday and also higher than July 3, when 18 fatalities were recorded.
Meanwhile, 740 patients were admitted to hospital – up on yesterday’s figure of 717 and nearly double the figure of 388 a fortnight ago.
It marks the highest daily admissions since March 2, when 834 people were hospitalised.
It comes as…
Elsewhere, 67,956 Brits received their first dose of the jab yesterday, bringing the total to 46,227,101.
And 188,976 were given their second dose, meaning 35,732,297 people are now fully protected against the virus.
THIRD WAVE FEARS
Today’s figures come amid mounting concern over the spread of the Delta variant.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt today warned that lockdown restrictions could return if Covid hospitalisations exceed the daily peak of the first wave.
Mr Hunt, who is now chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, told BBC Radio 4: “The warning light on the NHS dashboard is not flashing amber, it is flashing red.
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“Covid hospital patients are doubling every two weeks. That means we are heading for 10,000 Covid hospital patients by the end of August, which is about 20 times higher than this time last year. It is a very serious situation.
“I think coming into September we are almost certainly going to see infections reach a new daily peak going above the 68,000 daily level, which was the previous daily record in January.
“If they are still going up as the schools are coming back I think we are going to have to reconsider some very difficult decisions.”
SAJ TESTS POSITIVE
In other developments, Sajid Javid today announced he had tested positive for coronavirus – just three days before ‘Freedom Day’.
The Health Secretary said he had returned a positive lateral flow test for the bug – but his symptoms are “mild” and he has been double-vaccinated.
In a video message posted to his Twitter, Javid said: “I’m now self-isolating at home with my family until I get the results of a PCR test.”
Yesterday, Javid was seen leaving Downing Street. It is unclear whether anyone in contact with him will need to self-isolate.
On Monday, the Government will lift all legal Covid restrictions with social distancing measures scrapped, large-scale events back on and work-from-home guidance shelved.
But ministers have tempered their ‘Freedom Day’ promises as cases continue to surge, with Boris Johnson last week warning the pandemic was “not over”.
Brits will instead be encouraged to wear masks in crowded spaces and return to the office gradually – while hospitality venues could ask for vaccine passports upon entry.