The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has warned the Prime Minister he may have to reintroduce measures in August unless Covid hospitalisations slow. Scientists have sounded the alarm as deaths and hospitalisations, while lower than they were in the winter, begin to rise again.
As of July 20, 4,568 patients are currently in hospital and 618 are on ventilators.
Should hospitalisations continue to rise over the next fortnight, SAGE has recommended Boris Johnson reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing and home working.
Earlier in July, models from the group estimated hospital admissions from Covid would reach between 1,000 and 2,000 at the peak of a third wave in late August.
But SAGE has updated its models, suggesting there could be 1,500 daily patients by the end of the first week of August and 3,000 by the end of the month, which would put the peak of admissions on par with the first wave in 2020.
NHS England has already warned hospitals to prepare for “the most difficult period” of the pandemic in more than a year.
According to the Health Service Journal, a sent NHS officials in the Midlands said: “[The pressures are] compounded by the impact on staff absences and the need to maintain separate pathways.
“At the same time, we are seeing unprecedented pressure on urgent and emergency care while trying to maintain the momentum created to tackle the long waiting elective patients…
“We are entering, potentially, what will be the most difficult period since wave one of the pandemic…
“The distribution of admissions and critical patients is uneven and closely linked to the lower levels of COVID-19 vaccination.”
In a press briefing on Monday, the Prime Minister stressed it was right to end restrictions.
But he added: “It is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution, and I cannot say this powerfully or emphatically enough – this pandemic is not over.
“This disease, coronavirus, continues to carry risks for you and your family. We cannot simply revert instantly on Monday 19 July to life as it was before Covid.”
Chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty added the hospitalisations were doubling roughly every three weeks.
During a webinar hosted by the Science Museum, he said the country was not “out of the woods” by any means and the hospitalisations could escalate in the next couple of months.
Despite a rise in cases, Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline increased mixing during the Euro 2020 final at Wembley earlier this month fuelled the epidemic with a fall in infections to come.
He told the outlet: “Today’s infections are remarkably low.
“I think over next couple of days we’ll actually see some falls in cases.
‘I’m more convinced than ever that the government’s done the right thing by opening up this week.
“If we hadn’t had the Euros, infections might have already been falling already.”
July 19 saw 44,104 new cases and 73 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test in the UK.
In the week ending July 16, the seven-day average for new cases was at 472.3 per 100,000 people.
In total, the UK has seen 5,563,006 cases and 128,823 deaths from the virus.
Another 39,035 first doses and 128,896 second doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered on Monday.
In total, 46,388,744 first doses and 36,404,566 second doses have been administered, equalling 88.1 percent and 69.1 percent of the population respectively.