‘UK not out of woods’: Senior medic’s warning on Covid-19 amid spike in daily cases

Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer (CMO) of England, has warned that the United Kingdom is “not out of the woods yet” with the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 is likely to attain “quite a scary level” if the current trend of doubling of hospitalisations due to Covid-19 every three weeks continues.

“We are in a much better shape due to our vaccine programme, drugs and a variety of other things. However, we are not, by any means, out of the woods yet on this. We shouldn’t also underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again surprisingly fast,” Professor Whitty, who is also the chief medical adviser (CMA) to the UK government, said on Thursday at a webinar hosted by the Science Museum, London.

The senior physician also had a word of caution as the UK approaches July 19 “Freedom Day,” when all legal restrictions related to Covid-19 induced lockdown will be lifted. “I expect most people to continue using precautions like face masks in closed spaces even if these are no longer a legal requirement for next week. People are saying that even if they themselves are relatively low-risk, they will modify their behaviour as people around them are at high-risk,” Professor Whitty remarked.

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The warning from the medic, who appears alongside prime minister Boris Johnson during the latter’s briefing on coronavirus, comes at a time when there has been a major upswing in the UK’s daily Covid-19 cases even as the government confirmed earlier this week that all legal restrictions related to the Covid-19 lockdown will end on July 19. On Thursday, official data showed 48,553 fresh cases and 63 deaths due to the viral disease, as against 42,302 cases and 49 deaths for a day earlier.

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The surge in daily cases in the UK has coincided with the recently concluded Wimbledon championships which were hosted entirely in England, and the Euro, which was hosted by 11 cities across the continent, including London, which was also the venue for the semifinals and the final. An Indian cricketer, currently in the UK with the national squad for a Test series with the hosts tested positive for Covid-19. A staff member, too, returned a positive test result.

Experts believe that the Delta Covid-19 variant is behind the recent uptick in daily cases.

(With PTI inputs)