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The UK has reported 10,321 new cases of coronavirus – the highest increase on a Saturday since February – and a further 14 deaths in the latest 24-hour period.
It is the third day in a row the UK has recorded more than 10,000 new confirmed infections, and the highest total on a Saturday since 10,406 cases were reported on February 20.
A total of 4,620,968 people have now tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK.
Saturday's figure is a 33 per cent rise on the 7,738 lab-confirmed cases were reported a week ago on June 12, and an increase of almost 80 per cent on 5,765 infections announced on June 5.
On Friday, the UK recorded an additional 11,007 confirmed cases, the highest single-day total since February 19 when 12,027 infections were reported.
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People walk past a sign urging regular tests for coronavirus in Bolton
(Image: Getty Images)
The Government said a further 14 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 127,970.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
It is the highest rise on a Saturday since 32 deaths were reported on April 24 but similar to totals on the previous two Saturdays.
The UK reported 12 deaths on June 12 and 13 on June 5.
Hospital admissions increased by 1,413 in the seven days to June 15, a rise of almost 40 per cent compared with the previous week.
Government data up to June 18 shows that of the 73,766,593 jabs given in the UK so far, 42,679,268 were first doses – a rise of 218,636 on the previous day.
Some 31,087,325 were second doses, an increase of 188,858.
The latest figures were revealed as a Government adviser said a “third wave” of coronavirus infections “is definitely under way”, and surge testing was launched in parts of south London – Clapham, Brixton, Stockwell, West Norwood and Vauxhall – and Cumbria.
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Professor Adam Finn, who advises the Government on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way.
“We can conclude that the race is firmly on between the vaccine programme, particularly getting older people’s second doses done, and the Delta variant third wave.”
Prof Finn was asked if he feels confident that we are going to outpace the Delta variant with the current rate of vaccination, and he told Times Radio: “No, I don’t feel confident, but I think there’s some grounds for optimism.
“The latest ONS figures continue to show a rise, but that rise has not accelerated quite as much as I’d feared over the last week.
Covid-19 vaccines are now being offered to everyone over 18 in England
(Image: Getty Images)
“So, the race is on. The sooner we can get, particularly second doses, into older people, the less of a hospitalisation wave we’ll see this time around.
“That’s the critical thing, that’s what’s grounded us all in the past, and if we’ve managed to protect enough older people that we can avoid a great big surge of hospitalisations and deaths, then things will be able to move back towards normal.”
Dr Mike Tildesley, epidemiologist and a member of the SPI-M modelling group, said he is “cautiously hopeful” that the number of Covid-19 hospital admissions over the next few weeks will not be on the same scale as happened in January.
He said those going to hospital at the moment tend to be slightly younger and “slightly less sick”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “Currently we’re seeing slightly younger people are becoming infected, and actually the people going to hospital tend to be slightly younger, and therefore also slightly less sick, which is again quite a good sign that even if we’re starting to see more people going into hospital they tend to be younger people who have higher likelihood of recovering successfully.
“I realise I’m being slightly cautious here. All of these are cautiously good signs but, of course, we do need to keep an eye on this over the next couple of weeks so that we can give as much information as we can to the Government prior to the 19th of July reopening.”