COVID hospital admissions in the UK have exceeded HALF in a week, with 565 patients in 24 hours.
The rising number – which is the highest since March – comes for more than a week until England is completely unblocked on 19 July.
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Coronavirus cases have increased by 32,367 in the past day, taking the total number of infections since the start of the pandemic to 5,089,893.
And today 34 more deaths were reported, taking the total loss to 128,339.
That means there has been a 30% increase in cases over the past seven days – and a 62% increase in deaths.
And according to government data as of 9 July, of the 80,327,679 Covid injections administered so far in the UK, 45,786,550 were the first dose – an increase of 88,675 a day earlier.
There were some 34,541,129 second doses, an increase of 166,883.
Today, a leading doctor warned that Britain is not expected to return to normal on 19 July after an ‘alarming’ rise in Covid cases.
Throwing away all coronavirus precautions on Independence Day is dangerous and will ‘add fuel to the fire’ as Britain is already battling a ‘dangerous wave’, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard has said.
The UK is also facing an NHS backlog that has built up over the past 15 months – adding to the pressure on health services.
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the government’s Pandemic Influenza Scientific Advisory Group on Modeling, also agreed that there is “a risk” with reopening on 19 July.
All COVID restrictions, including wearing of masks, isolation and social distancing, are expected to end in a week.
But it comes at a time when cases are on the rise – and Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, president of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said deaths are also starting to rise.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I have been very concerned for the past week or two since the 19 July talks intensified.
“There seems to be a misconception that life will go back to normal from there (July 19), and that we can take away all the precautions, and frankly that would be dangerous. “
Meanwhile, punters may be required to present a COVID vaccine certificate to enter bars and restaurants amid fears of a fourth wave.
The government has set aside plans for pocket passports to be mandatory when the country unlocks on Independence Day – but has refused to rule out their requirement if cases escalate in the future.
Ministers scrapped a plan to use certification to access certain public places into law from July 19 because it would be unfair for young people not to receive their second dose yet.
A No. 10 review of the proposed mandate also highlighted the “burden” it would inflict on businesses hit hard by months of foreclosure.
But while Boris Johnson has announced that jab passports will no longer be required when COVID restrictions are lifted this month, Number 10 has indicated they will be used in the coming months.
A note in the government’s plan for Independence Day reads: “However, it is possible that the certification could provide a way to keep events and businesses open if the country is facing a difficult fall or winter.”
“Any future implementation will involve proper parliamentary consultation and scrutiny. “