Schools set to reopen as UK COVID deaths average 100 a day – highest since March

pharmafile | August 24, 2021 | News story | Manufacturing and Production  

According to official data COVID-19 deaths in the UK are averaging at 100 a day, and scientists have warned that case rates will jump again when millions of pupils return to schools next week.

The seven-day average for deaths within 28 days of a positive test now stands at 100, figures released by Public Health England on Monday show, a number that was last exceeded on 18 March.

This current average figure is still far from the numbers seen last winter, the highest daily total was 1,248, reported on 23 January, thanks to the UK’s vaccination drive.

Confirmed infection numbers have also started to rise once more following a dramatic fall in mid-July, with 31,914 cases reported on Monday, the seven-day average figure having increased 13% from a week before. Hospitalisations have risen from 672 on 31 July to 948 on 17 August.

Some scientists have warned that a likely increase in COVID-19 cases in autumn and winter, coupled with other viruses, could require the return of mitigation measures such as face masks.

Adding to the concern over infection rates is the imminent reopening of schools in the UK next week. Cases in Scotland, where most pupils went back last week, have risen dramatically, going up from 799 on 2 August to 3,190 on Sunday. However, while the return of schools may have played a role in the rise, it is unlikely to be the only factor as they reopened so recently.

Speaking to the Guardian, Prof Rowland Kao of the University of Edinburgh, a member of the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, or Spi-M, said that while more time was needed to see if the recent rise in hospitalisation is sustained, the trend did appear to be in that direction.

He said: “As we know, the total number in hospital in England last winter peaked at over 34,000; the current number is less than 6,000, so thankfully we are well away from this. However, observed rises in cases in Scotland in the last week have been substantially more dramatic than in England and test positivity has also increased. It is reasonable to think that this may be associated with the return to schools and the other activities that increase with it.

“Should this be the case, and a similar phenomenon occur when schools return in England, cases, and therefore ultimately hospitalisations, will also likely increase.”

Kat Jenkins

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