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UK Covid deaths spike to highest level since April as new variant erupts – lockdown fears

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Sir Patrick Vallance: COVID-19 will be with us forever

On Monday the UK reported 10,633 cases and five deaths. Today’s number of infections is the highest figure on record since mid-February and comes as fears of the Delta variant of Covid rise. The variant first detected in India has become the dominant strain in England. The rise in infections and fatalities comes ahead of next week’s review of travel rules.

Ministers are expected to take a cautious approach but the green list could be expanded to include a handful of European countries, according to analysts.

The UK’s vaccine programme continues to make strong progress, with a further 21,080 people receiving their first dose yesterday. 

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More than 43 million people across the country have now received one dose of the Covid vaccine, which equates to 81.9 percent of the overall population. 

And those who are fully inoculated, having received both jabs, have reached over 31.4 million. 

UK Covid deaths spike to highest level since April as new variant erupts – lockdown fears

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UK Covid deaths spike to highest level since April as new variant erupts – lockdown fears (Image: GETTY)

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The PM will analyse data before making a decision on whether to bring Freedom Day forward (Image: GETTY)

This means 59.8 percent of the UK population is fully protected against the coronavirus. 

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Nicola Sturgeon is expected to confirm a delay in the lifting of restrictions in Scotland, bringing the nation in line with Boris Johnson’s plan to roll back measures on July 19.

Yesterday had originally been earmarked as “Freedom Day” in England, but the Prime Minister chose to push the date back by four weeks due to rising cases of the Delta variant. 

Scotland’s First Minister last week signalled he move to level zero – the lowest in the five-tier system – was likely to be pushed back by three weeks.

READ MORE: Four men develop deadly condition after receiving AstraZeneca jab

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The PM could bring Freedom Day forward to July 5 (Image: GETTY)

She has also pledged to publish a much-anticipated review of social distancing rules.

Matt Hancock, the health minister, said the Covid data looks encouraging and suggests England’s lockdown can fully end on July 19 as planned because a recent rise in cases is not resulting in deaths.

Earlier today he told BBC radio: “We’re on track for the opening on the 19th of July, and we will watch vigilantly and we’ll look at the data in particular at the start of next week.

“But I would say that the data, over the last week or so, has been encouraging, and especially looking at the number of people who are dying, that is staying very, very low, and it shows that the vaccine is working.”

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Boris Johnson will announce a review of travel rules on Monday (Image: GETTY)

nicola sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce a delay to the lifting of restrictions (Image: GETTY)

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said he will hold talks with Ms Sturgeon tomorrow to discuss the ban on all non-essential travel from Scotland to Manchester and Salford.

His comments came after Ms Sturgeon on Friday announced that non-essential travel between Scotland and Manchester and Salford would be banned from yesterday. 

A spokesman for the Scottish government said Covid rates in Manchester and Salford were “particularly high at the moment and these restrictions are intended to minimise the risk of either exacerbating the situation there or indeed allowing more virus to come back here to Scotland”.

Mr Burnham accused the SNP-led government of “hypocrisy”. 

UK coronavirus map

UK coronavirus map (Image: EXPRESS)

He held a press conference earlier today where he told reporters he was seeking a “political route” out of the dispute.

He explained: “I anticipate having the opportunity to discuss it with the First Minister tomorrow and obviously we will want clarity on elements of the policy that are currently unclear to us in terms of the criteria that are being used here, the exit strategy, the process for lifting the restrictions on the boroughs affected.

“We just want to seek resolution and a better way of doing things going forward.

“The political route is the route to pursue. That’s obviously what we would seek to do. To put in place better dialogue, better lines of communication which clearly aren’t there at the moment.”

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Andy Burnham has hit out at Nicola Sturgeon’s travel ban (Image: GETTY)

Some scientists have suggested lockdown restrictions in England could be lifted on July 5.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said Mr Johnson would announce on Monday if “Freedom Day” is being brought forward.

They said he will pore over data including cases, hospitalisations and deaths, ahead of the press conference to see if he can bring that date forward.

The spokesperson said: “Monday will be the day when we were deciding on the decision on that and we are closely monitoring the data, ahead of providing a full update. We will set out very clearly to the public, the rationale for the decision we’ve made.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

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UK Covid deaths spike to highest level since April as new variant erupts – lockdown fears
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