THE number of people testing positive for Covid has rocketed by a third in a week as 7,742 more infections were reported today.
However, deaths are currently staying low – with three more fatalities recorded in the past 24 hours.
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But 1,089 people are in hospital with the virus – with 161 in ventilated beds.
News of rising cases comes as Boris Johnson prepares to tell Brits he will delay 'freedom day' for weeks amid fears over the Indian – or Delta – mutation.
It comes as:
- Almost a third of patients who died after catching the Indian ‘Delta’ variant had both jabs – as fears of a third wave grow
- UK Covid cases are up a third in a week as 7,490 more test positive and another eight people die
- Dominic Raab demands ‘all the answers’ from China over the origin of the virus – although the UK doesn't believe a lab leak is to blame
- A Sage scientist said it's ‘very clear Britain will have substantial third wave’
- It's feared Britain ‘faces 100,000 Covid cases every day by July’
The PM will address the nation from Downing Street tonight to warn it isn't yet time to ease restrictions altogether.
In the 6pm announcement, he will confirm plans to include a "two-week break clause", meaning the lifting of restrictions could go ahead on July 5 if hospitalisations don't significantly rise.
But some ministers fear that with cases spiralling, the health situation could go the other way and curbs will need to stay in place for even longer.
This morning health minister Ed Argar warned lockdown easing could take until August.
And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned yesterday he couldn't provide an "absolute guarantee" restrictions will definitely be lifted on July 19.
Asked about that possibility, Mr Argar said today: "Were there to be a delay of course that’s possible.
"But I and the PM and the Health Secretary want to see restrictions removed as soon as it’s safe to do so, and any delay as short as possible.
"We’ve got to recognise vaccination is the key. This disease will become endemic and we’ve got to learn to live with it.
"We will not get to a zero Covid. Vaccination is the way to get to the point where we can live with this disease."
He said the hope is to use the proposed month-long extension to get 10 million second jabs into arms, extending maximum protection to 75 per cent of Brits.
About 44 per cent of UK adults are not yet fully vaccinated against Covid.
More than two million of that number are aged 50 and over.
At the current rate of rollout, a delay of four weeks would mean another nine million people could have their second doses
Public Health England research found that a single dose of the jab was just 33 per cent effective against the Indian mutation.
Protection ramps up significantly, to around 81 per cent, with a second dose.
As a result of the delay, pubs will likely be restricted to table service, with the return of propping up the bar still some way off.
Meanwhile, theatres and cinemas will continue to be restricted to just 50 per cent capacity, clubs will remain closed, and people will be told to continue working from home if they can.
One source told the Sun: "No one wants to go backwards, and we have to get this right first go.
“The last thing they need is a hokey cokey of in out, in out of restrictions."
And a senior UK government source told The Telegraph the message had always been "cautious but irreversible", adding: "That has been our mantra throughout and that continues.
"It would be far worse to have uncertainty and go backwards.
"It is better to be cautious and have certainty. It is one last heave. It is a straight race between the vaccine and the virus."
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