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Boris Johnson is set to announce on Monday whether a final easing of coronavirus restrictions in England will go ahead as planned on June 21.

However, there are a number of reports claiming that this so-called 'freedom day' is due to be delayed for a month due to the growing concerns about rising covid infections.

The last stage of the road map out of lockdown would see an end to all legal limits on social contact, a reopening of nightclubs, no restrictions on the size of weddings or other gatherings, and the return of large audiences for events such as theatre performances.

Do you thinking the final easing of restrictions should be delayed? Share your opinion in the comments section below

Vaccines have been delivered at an impressive rate across the UK
(Image: PA)

The Government has said the decision to lift restrictions will be based on four tests. These are;

  • Whether the vaccine rollout is continuing successfully
  • If evidence shows vaccines are reducing hospital cases and deaths among people who have been vaccinated
  • That infection rates are not risking a surge in hospital cases that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • That the Government's assessment of the risks has not been fundamentally changed by new variants of concern

Based on these four tests, the latest data offers a mixed picture.

Cases, infections and hospital admissions are all rising, although still well below the peak of the second wave of the virus and the vaccines are continuing to prove successful in reducing the number of deaths.

But there is new evidence the Indian variant of Covid-19 is now responsible for up to 96% of new cases – with a 60% increased risk of household transmission compared to the Kent variant last year.

Here we look at the current situation before the begin decision is announced next week.

Most restrictions have already been eased, including returning to indoor venues like cinemas
(Image: PA)

COVID VARIANTS

The Delta variant of coronavirus, first identified in India, is driving the rise in infections and case rates, and is now responsible for up to 96% of new Covid-19 cases, Public Health England said on Friday.

It is also believed to have a 60% increased risk of household transmission compared to the Alpha variant, which originated in Kent at the end of last year.

Growth rates for Indian variant cases are doubling in some regions in as little as 4.5 days.

But while this variant now accounts for the overwhelming majority of new cases of Covid-19, Public Health England said it was "encouraging" that the increase is "not yet accompanied by a similarly large increase in hospitalisations", adding that the vaccination programme is continuing to reduce the impact of the variant among sections of the public where there is high take-up of both doses.

A map showing daily active cases of symptomatic coronavirus in the UK
(Image: ZOE COVID)

Out of 383 cases of the Indian variant in England up to June 7 that required an overnight stay in A&E, 251 (66%) were unvaccinated, 66 (17%) were more than 21 days after their first dose of vaccine and 42 (11%) were more than 14 days after their second.

And of the 42 deaths in England to June 7 of people who were confirmed as having the Indian variant of Covid-19 and who died within 28 days of a positive test, 23 were unvaccinated, seven were more than 21 days after their first dose of vaccine and 12 were more than 14 days after their second dose.

INFECTION RATES

The proportion of people testing positive for coronavirus in England has increased in recent weeks.

Around one in 560 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to June 5 – up from one in 640 in the previous week, according to estimates published on Friday by the Office for National Statistics.

It is the highest level since the week to April 10.

These figures are still very low compared with the peak of the second wave in January; the latest estimate of one in 560 people is the equivalent of 0.2% of the population, well below the 2.1% estimated at the start of the year.

But the downwards trend in infections since January has gone into reverse, with the latest numbers continuing to show an increase.

But infections are increasing again, largely due to a new variant of covid
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

North-west England had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to June 5: around one in 200.

South-west England had the lowest estimate: around one in 1,920.

Meanwhile the rate of new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in England is now at its highest level for three months.

A total of 60.1 cases per 100,000 people were recorded in the seven days to June 7 – the highest since March 5.

The rate hit 680.6 per 100,000 at the peak of the second wave in early January.

Around nine in 10 local authority areas in England (89%) are currently recording a rise in rates.

This is the highest proportion since the start of the year.

Coronavirus still poses a risk, and vaccines don't offer 100% protection
(Image: LHR AIRPORTS LIMITED/AFP via Get)

The biggest increases are all in Lancashire, including Ribble Valley (up week-on-week from 159.3 to 389.2), South Ribble (133.6 to 327.7) and Blackburn with Darwen, which continues to record the highest rate in England (up from 441.6 to 668.0).

Other areas of the country are now starting to record steep rises, however.

These include Staffordshire Moorlands (up from 42.7 to 110.7) and Wandsworth in London (33.4 to 93.7) .

HOSPITAL CASES AND DEATHS

The vaccine rollout has played a major role in helping reduce the number of Covid-19 hospital patients and deaths since the start of the year.

Up to May 30 2021, vaccines had averted around 42,000 hospital admissions and more than 14,000 deaths in older adults in England, according to the latest estimates from Public Health England.

This includes 11,800 deaths among people aged 80 and over.

Hospital cases are rising again, however.

A total of 158 hospital admissions of people with Covid-19 in England were reported for June 9, according to NHS England.

There are concerns about a third wave of infections and the effect it would have on the NHS
(Image: Adam Gerrard / Sunday Mirror)

This is up from 101 a week earlier and is the highest number since April 12.

The seven-day average for admissions currently stands at 120, the highest since April 21.

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in England stood at 884 as of 8am on June 11.

This is up from 805 a week earlier, while the seven-day average currently stands at 856 patients, the highest since May 16.

Two regions are now seeing a clear rise in patient numbers: north-west England, where the seven-day average is currently 246, the highest since April 24, and in London, where the average stands at 253, the highest since May 19.

Other regions have yet to see a similar trend, however – and in all areas the level of patients is still well below that of the peak of the second wave.

VACCINE ROLLOUT

Some 34.3 million first doses of Covid-19 vaccine have now been delivered in England – the equivalent of 77.5% of the adult population.

A further 24.7 million second doses have also been given, meaning 55.8% of people aged 18 and over are likely to be fully vaccinated.

The Government has said it is on target to offer all people aged 50 and over both doses of vaccine by June 21, and for all adults to be offered a first jab by the end of July.

Vaccine take-up varies among different age groups, however.

The trend of daily new cases of coronavirus in the UK by vaccination status
(Image: ZOE COVID)

The latest available breakdown from NHS England, showing vaccinations up to June 6, shows 91.8% of people aged 80 and over have had both doses of vaccine – suggesting 8.2%, or around one in 12, are not yet fully vaccinated.

Some 97.4% of 70 to 79-year-olds are estimated to be fully vaccinated, along with 90.8% of people aged 60 to 69 and 72.5% of those aged 50 to 59.

There are also differences in take-up among other groups.

Only 68.7% of staff in older adult care homes are estimated to be fully vaccinated, compared with 90.5% of residents of these homes.

Boris Johnson has a decision to make, and is set to announce it on Monday
(Image: Getty Images)

Some 88.8% of people classed as clinically extremely vulnerable have had both doses, though for London this figure is just 79.5%.

And 68.7% of those aged 16 to 64 classed as 'at risk' or a carer have received both doses of vaccine, dropping to 66.6% in north-west England and 58.8% in London.

The figures suggest there continue to be some groups of the population where the level of protection offered by both doses of Covid-19 vaccine is lagging behind the rest of the country.