Covid: worst of pandemic ‘could be behind us by late September’ - but Prime Minister urges caution
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A leading expert has said that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic could be behind us by late September.
However, the Prime Minister warned against drawing “premature conclusions” about dropping coronavirus cases and said that the easing of restrictions on July 19 in England had not yet shown up in the figures.
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At a glance: 5 key points
- Professor Neil Ferguson – whose modelling was instrumental to the UK going into lockdown in March 2020 – said it will be “several more weeks” before the effect of the July 19 unlocking is known.
- The scientist, from Imperial College London, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme that he was “positive that by late September or October time we will be looking back at most of the pandemic”.
- Official figures on Monday showed the number of Covid-19 cases newly reported in the UK dropped for the sixth day in a row.
- A number of factors are thought to be behind fall, including increased vaccination, people socialising outdoors and a stop to secondary school testing, which was picking up symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.
- Due to the time lag between reported cases and people being admitted to hospital, admissions for treatment are still rising.
What’s been said
“I’ve noticed, obviously, that we are six days into some better figures.
“But it is very, very important that we don’t allow ourselves to run away with premature conclusions about this.
“Step four of the opening-up only took place a few days ago, people have got to remain very cautious and that remains the approach of the Government.”
“We need to remain cautious, especially with the potential increase in contact rates again as the weather becomes less fine and schools return.
“We’re not completely out of the woods, but the equation has fundamentally changed. The effect of vaccines is hugely reducing the risk of hospitalisations and death.
“And I’m positive that by late September or October time we will be looking back at most of the pandemic.
“We will have Covid with us, we will still have people dying from Covid, but we’ll have put the bulk of the pandemic behind us.”
Professor Neil Ferguson
Some 5,055 patients were in hospital with Covid-19 in England on Monday, up 33% from the previous week and the highest since March 18,
However, the figure is still well below levels seen in the second wave of the pandemic.
Elsewhere, a total of 218 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending July 16 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – up 19% on the previous week.
It is the highest total since 260 deaths in the week to April 23.
The total number of deaths with Covid in the UK has now reached 154,661, the ONS said.
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