UK reports highest increase in COVID-19 cases since February

UK reports highest increase in COVID-19 cases since February
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The United Kingdom on Thursday reported 16,703 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day increase since February.

The spike, along with 21 deaths counted Thursday by the British government's COVID-19 tracker, comes even as nearly 83 percent of the U.K.'s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Cases began to plummet after peaking in late December and early January, dipping below 2,000 a day in May. However, cases began to pick up again starting in mid-May as the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, which was first detected in India, spread through the country.

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According to the COVID-19 tracker, the U.K. has seen more than 4.6 million coronavirus cases and more than 152,000 deaths.

The delta variant is more infectious than prior dominant strains and is believed to cause a quicker onset of illness.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week that plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions would be delayed by one month. The government has been cautious on the issue, saying that any actions made in easing COVID-19-related guidelines would be irreversible.

“I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer,” Johnson said. “Now is the time to ease off the accelerator, because by being cautious now we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.”

As Barrons reported, Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty said that cases and hospitalizations will likely continue to go up, though he could not predict how big this most recent surge will be.

"My expectation is that we will get a further late autumn/winter surge, and that's because we know autumn and winter favor respiratory viruses," Whitty said.