More than 32,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded across the UK on Wednesday, the highest level since mid-January.
A total of 32,548 people tested positive across the UK according to official data released on Wednesday, this being the highest number recorded since 23 January and nearly halfway to the peak of the second wave.
The data indicates a continued sharp rise in infections, with cases now double the 16,135 cases recorded a fortnight ago, and up by 472 per cent from this time last month.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid admitted earlier this week that the country could see 50,000 cases a day before 19 July, when Covid restrictions in England are set to ease, and a peak of 100,000 daily infections within week.
He admitted: “I have to level with you, I think beyond 19 July, as these easings come in, we should expect to see the case numbers far higher than 50,000.”
The Government is reportedly banking on case numbers reaching a peak in August due to levels of “hybrid immunity” achieved by both vaccinations and Covid infections.
However, the controversial strategy has led to accusations that vulnerable people are being left at risk, as well as warnings that the NHS may be left dealing with thousands of long Covid patients in the months and years to come.
On Wednesday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer challenged Boris Johnson to detail how many deaths, hospitalisations and cases of long Covid would emerge following the easing of restrictions.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: “We all want our economy to open and to get back to normal. The question is whether we do it in a controlled way or a chaotic way.”
Highlighting the projections from Mr Javid, Sir Keir asked: “If infections reach that level – 100,000 per day – what does the Prime Minister expect the number of hospitalisations, deaths and the number of people with long Covid will be in that eventuality?”
Mr Johnson replied: “There are a number of projections and they’re available from the Spi-M graphs, but what’s certainly true is that we’re seeing a wave of cases because of the Delta variant.
“But scientists are also absolutely clear that we have severed the link between infection and serious disease and death. Currently there are only a 30th of the deaths that we were seeing at an equivalent position in previous waves of this pandemic.”