UK Covid cases surge past 4,000 to highest in TWO MONTHS amid Indian variant

DAILY UK Covid cases have surged past 4,000 to the highest they've been in two months.

The Indian variant continues to spread fast as a further 4,182 people test positive for the virus.

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The latest data brings the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 4,477,705.

Infections are up from yesterday's 3,542, and have risen significantly from the 2,360 reported on April 28.

And the number of people testing positive each day in the UK is at its highest since March 28 when 4,649 new cases were recorded.

The UK registered a further 10 Covid deaths in the latest 24-hour period, meaning the UK's coronavirus death toll now stands at 127,768.

The number of people dying within 28 days of positive is up from six a week ago, but down from the 34 recorded on March 28.

It comes as…

  • Thousands descend on London’s Chinatown after ‘vaccine bus’ promises jabs without appointments, NHS number or ID
  • Next Indian variant hotspots identified by Covid symptom app – as strain now dominant
  • Next 7 days will be crucial to see if Covid jabs can stop surge of Indian variant triggering third wave
  • Boris Johnson casts fresh doubt on June 21 freedom day as Hancock says ‘too early to tell’ if unlocking can go ahead
  • Janssen’s single-shot Covid vaccine is approved for use in UK – as 20m doses give big boost to jab blitz
  • Official Covid R rate creeps up again – as Indian variant fuels rise in cases

Matt Hancock yesterday warned the Indian variant is now responsible for three quarters of all new Covid cases in the UK.

The Health Secretary said the dominant strain is still spreading fast, and warned: "This isn't over yet."

Hancock added: "We are in a race between the vaccine and the virus.

"We've got to get the vaccines out fast. And that is the thing that really, really matters."

And Dr Jenny Harries told the public: "We have to be really, really vigilant."

The latest government data also shows a whopping 63,349,252 vaccinations have been administered in the UK.

This includes 38,871,200 first doses and 24,478,052 second doses, meaning nearly 24.5 million Brits are almost fully protected against Covid-19.

Hancock urged people to get their jabs as the "best way" out of the pandemic.

He said that of the 49 people in hospital with coronavirus in Bolton, only five have had both doses of vaccine.

And he said cases of the Indian variant remain focused in "hotspots" where surge testing and extra vaccinations have been rolled out to combat it.

Despite a stonking vaccination programme, Boris Johnson poured fresh doubt on June 21's 'freedom day' as Matt Hancock said it was too early to tell if the full unlocking can go ahead.

The PM said as far as he can see there's nothing in the data to suggest a delay but that "we might have to wait" to make final decisions in the next week or two.

A "formal assessment" of data will take place next week – as medics grow increasingly gloomy about the new surge.

Under the roadmap, June 21 was set to be the day life finally returned to normal.

The PM had considered ending social distancing and wearing masks altogether after the jabs rollout and winter lockdown forced both cases and deaths downwards.

But the spread of the Indian variant now looks set to delay the day millions of Brits have been awaiting for more than a year.

While there's hope a double dose of the jab can guard against severe illness from the variant, 10 per cent of those hospitalised with it are already fully vaccinated.

It's a sign that, while the jab works well, the mutation can still get around inoculation in some cases.

'MUST BE VIGILANT'

Hancock said during the press briefing: "Thankfully the uptake is very high. We monitor these new variants really carefully.

"Thankfully the effectiveness of the variant first identified in India after two jabs, does appear to be the same as against the old Kent variant.

"That means we can have confidence in the strategy that has been working.

"But of course, we have to be vigilant to the number of cases."

The bad news comes as one expert said people under the age of 21 may be more vulnerable to the worrying mutation.

Prof Neil Ferguson, whose models on UK Covid deaths led to the first national lockdown, revealed there is a “signal” in the data that it’s spreading more quickly in the young.

He said the Indian variant was now "the dominant strain" in the UK and the full reopening of society next month "hangs in the balance".

And Prof Ravi Gupta, a microbiologist at Cambridge University, has warned Brits must brace for more "weird things" from Covid – including "super mutant viruses" – and said: "This is just the beginning."

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