Social distancing and face masks set for return in August

Saturday, 24th July 2021, 9:32 am
Social distancing and face mask rules could be re-imposed if hospitalisations surge (Photo: Getty Images)
Social distancing and face mask rules could be re-imposed if hospitalisations surge (Photo: Getty Images)

Covid-19 restrictions could be re-introduced in England ‘within weeks’ as cases continue to soar.

Sage scientific advisers have warned that the government should be prepared to put lockdown measures back in place in the first week of August to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed by the end of the month.

Modelling has suggested that daily hospitalisations will peak at the end of next month, rising to around 1,000 and 2,000 admissions per day, while deaths are predicted to reach between 100 and 200 per day.

Will there be another lockdown?

The decision to re-impose restrictions would be based on the level of pressure on the NHS, with a Whitehall source telling the Independent that ‘baseline’ measures would be a last resort.

Officials in the Covid-19 taskforce have reportedly been drawing up plans to see some measures, including wearing face masks, social distancing and working from home guidance, reintroduced in England by next month.

It is not yet clear if such measures would be imposed on a local, regional or national basis.

An insider from Downing Street reportedly added that there would not be a return to a hard lockdown, even as a circuit breaker.

There is still a lot of uncertainty in the modelling, with the data being influenced by the take-up of vaccines and people’s behaviour in the wake of the 19 July so-called ‘freedom day’.

However, if hospital admissions surge too high, Sage scientists have recommended that some rules should be put back in place early to avoid the predicted peak at the end of August.

Advisers argue that early intervention would help prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed in a late summer crisis.

Are hospital admissions rising?

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in England has already surged to its highest level in four months.

Latest figures from NHS England show that 4,401 hospital beds were occupied by confirmed Covid-19 cases on Friday (23 July), which is the highest level since 22 March and marks a week-on-week rise of 30.7 per cent.

Although numbers are still much lower than the peak of the second wave when patient levels in England reached 34,336 on 18 January.

The figures reflect how the third of coronavirus is slowing driving a steady rise in hospital admissions.

It comes as Covid-19 infections among young people in their 20s reached the highest level for any age group since the pandemic began.

Between 12 and 18 July, a total of 1154.7 infections per 100,000 people were recorded among those aged 20 to 29, according to figures from Public Health England (PHE).

The data has prompted fresh calls for people in this age group to come forward and get their two doses of the vaccine to ensure the highest level of protection.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.