Coronavirus infections in the UK are likely to double in the next two weeks as the country lifts remaining Covid-19 restrictions, Health Secretary Sajid Javid says.
Infections are currently running at just under 29,000 a day UK-wide, and according to Javid, the figure could reach 100,000 a day in the summer.
“As we ease and go into the summer, we expect them to rise significantly, and they could go as high as 100,000 case numbers,” Javid said on BBC radio on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday that the lifting of most remaining restrictions in the UK will go ahead on 19 July despite warnings from health experts against doing so.
Javid defended the approach set out by Johnson, but acknowledged considerable uncertainty.
“What matters more than anything is hospitalization and death numbers, and that is where the link has been severely weakened,” Javid said.
“Just to put a number on that — at the moment, we are seeing around 25,000 new cases a day. The last time was saw numbers like that, we sadly had deaths of around 500 a day. And now we are at about one-thirtieth of that,” he added.
He also said it was possible that new variants of Covid could emerge, noting it would be potentially resistant to current vaccines.
“The one thing that no one can say for certain anywhere in the world is the future progression of the virus.”
Johnson also said Monday, "I want to stress from the outset that this pandemic is far from over and it will certainly not be over by [July] 19th," adding, "We must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid.”
Nevertheless, he said that capacity limits and social distancing rules will be lifted by that date.