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Britain daily infections could reach 100,000 this summer, health secretary says


Britain daily coronavirus cases could reach 100,000 this summer as the government moves to end nearly all covid-related restrictions later this month, the countrys health secretary said Tuesday.

Sajid Javid told BBC Radio that coronavirus case numbers, currently hovering around 25,000 each day, were expected to double ahead of the July 19 deadline to lift restrictions, as the more transmissible delta variant drives a new surge in infections.

"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. Even at its worst peak in January, Britain's daily cases never surpassed 60,000 a day.

Japan will extend its "quasi-state of emergency" covering Tokyo through the Olympics, the Nikkei newspaper reported. The measures had been set to expire July 11, but the coronavirus caseload remains relatively high, and the vast majority of the population is unvaccinated.

Israel said Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine offered less protection against infection from the coronavirus than previously seen, although it remains highly effective at preventing severe disease. The new data come as the country grapples with a wave of delta variant cases.

There is no scientific evidence supporting the theory that the coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab, and more recent studies suggest the virus evolved in nature, a group of scientists wrote in the Lancet on Monday. The authors are the same researchers who in February 2020 dismissed the lab leak idea as a conspiracy theory.

Germany is loosening restrictions on people entering from Britain, India, Portugal and Russia. Fully inoculated travelers from those countries will not have to quarantine; people who are not vaccinated will have to quarantine for five days if they test negative for the virus.

Australia's New South Wales reported 18 new locally transmitted cases on Tuesday. Sydney, the state's most populous city, remains in a lockdown that could end Friday.

The health secretary added it was more important to track the number of hospitalizations and deaths caused by the virus - outcomes that he said have been tempered by new covid-19 treatments and a successful vaccination campaign.

"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, if I may - at the moment, we are seeing around 25,000 new cases a day," he said. "The last time we saw numbers like that … we sadly had deaths of around 500 a day. And now we are at about one-thirtieth of that."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday that almost all government-mandated restrictions to control the pathogen's spread would end in England on July 19, even as he cautioned that the pandemic was not over.

The decision has alarmed some health experts who say it is too early to lift curbs such as public mask mandates, pointing to the devastation wrought by the delta variant in India, where it was first detected.

According to Public Health England, the variant accounts for at least 95 percent of new cases in Britain.

Published : July 07, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Erin Cunningham