The top government doctor has warned that the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus could reach “quite frightening” levels within weeks.
Professor Chris Whitty said the UK was ‘not out of the woods yet’, just hours after Boris Johnson said it was ‘highly likely’ the worst of the pandemic was over.
The latest figures showed 48,553 more cases, the highest since January 15, while the 63 deaths were the largest daily increase reported since March 26.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Whitty said: “I don’t think we should underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again surprisingly quickly.”
He warned that the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 is currently doubling every three weeks or so and could reach “pretty scary numbers” if the trend continues.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Science Museum, Prof Whitty said, “We’re not out of the woods yet on this, we’re in much better shape thanks to the immunization program, drugs and a variety of other things.
“But it has a long way to go in the UK, and it is even further from working globally.”
His comments came after Mr Johnson urged people not to ‘warn against the wind’ as England’s restrictions eased on Monday and acknowledged there would be more admissions to the hospital and deaths from Covid-19 during the “difficult days and weeks to come”.
Professor Whitty said the key on July 19 was to “take things incredibly slowly,” adding that he expected most people to continue to take precautions.
“If you look at what people have done, and actually if you look at what people are planning to do now, people have been incredibly good at saying,” I may be a relatively low risk, but people around me are at high risk, and I will change my behaviors, ”he said.
The surge in infections has had a ripple effect on the number of people self-isolating after coming into contact with a confirmed case of the coronavirus.
Ministers are concerned about the scale of the problem and are considering whether the NHS Covid-19 application could be made less sensitive to reduce the number of ‘pings’.
Some 530,126 alerts, 520,194 in England and 9,932 in Wales, were sent in the seven days to July 7, the highest seven-day total since data was first released in January.
The Daily Telegraph reported that some neighbors in coronavirus cases have been asked to self-isolate because the app can trace people through walls.
“We hear of anecdotal cases and we know it is possible for the signal to go through walls, even if it is weakened,” a source close to the Test and Trace team told the newspaper.
Self-isolation levels are already having an impact on automakers.
Nissan has already had to adjust production in parts of its Sunderland plant due to the number of employees required to self-isolate.
And Rolls-Royce chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos told The Telegraph: “Cases have exploded and it’s wreaking havoc. “