Coronavirus: Deputy chief medic says COVID-19 infections rise is ‘great concern’
A sharp rise in coronavirus cases is a “great concern” and a sign that people have relaxed too much, England’s deputy chief medic has said.
The UK’s weekly rate of new coronavirus cases has risen above 20 per 100,000 people – the rate at which it considers imposing quarantine measures on people arriving from abroad.
In the seven days to 7 September, there were 21.3 cases per 100,000, and a total of 14,227.
There were 13.9 per 100,000 in the seven days to 31 August, and a total of 9,259.
Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the figures were of “great concern”, adding: “This is a virus we’re going to have to live with – and if we’re not careful, if we don’t take this incredibly seriously from this point in, we’re going to have a bumpy ride over the next few months.”
Asked what is behind the rise in cases, he replied: “People have relaxed too much.”
“Now is the time for us to re-engage and realise that this is a continuing threat to us,” Professor Van-Tam said.
There has been a particularly sharp rise in the last two days.
In the 48 hours to 9am on Monday, there were almost 6,000 new positive tests, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.
In the 24 hours to 9am on Monday, a further 2,948 were reported, almost matching Sunday’s figure.
Prof Van-Tam added that young people are behind the rise in cases, saying: “There is a rise in all age groups, but it is really, really much more marked in the 17-21 years age group than any other.”
Speaking about all age groups he said: “It is clear that the level of compliance with the advice and the rules that have been set is very variable indeed.”
For most of August, positive coronavirus tests were rising by about 1,000 a day.
The number of cases is one of several factors the UK takes into account when considering applying quarantine measures.
Others include trends in the number of deaths in an individual country, the nation’s testing capacity, and the actions its government is taking.
A further three coronavirus-related deaths in the UK were announced on Monday, taking the total to 41,554.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the rise in cases is mainly among younger people who are not following social distancing rules.
He said it was largely under-25s, and especially those between the ages of 17 and 21.
Mr Hancock told LBC radio: “The message is that even though you are at lower risk of dying of COVID, if you are of that age, you can still have really serious symptoms and consequences. Also you can infect other people.”
Comparisons between recent and past cases should be made with caution.
The number of confirmed cases is heavily dependent on how many people – and who – is tested.
This has changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, with the number of tests processed each day increasing significantly.
Community testing has also expanded, whereas previously, access was limited to symptomatic patients and key workers.