Freedom Day will cause a ‘mad’ spike in Covid cases and ‘tens of thousands’ will die if nation rushes back to normal life, top scientists fear as time-lapse maps reveal how quickly third wave has spiralled with just 11 of 7,000 areas now free of virus
Just 100,000 people in England are living in areas where there were virtually no new Covid cases last week, according to MailOnline’s analysis of official figures.
Experts, including one of the Government’s own advisers, said it was ‘murderous’ to go through with Freedom Day in England today despite surging infections and claimed that ‘tens of thousands’ more people could die.
Department of Health data shows just 11 out of 6,792 neighbourhoods recorded three or less new infections in the week ending July 13, compared to more than 1,000 in March before the Indian Covid variant took off.
The Government suppresses numbers when they drop below three to conceal the identities of infected residents who could be singled out.
Almost half (3,065) of English neighbourhoods are recording more cases per 100,000 than the UK average of 376 and more than 500 places are seeing double that number. Nearly 150 areas have ‘extraordinarily’ high rates of above 1,000 per 100,000.
Nationally, there are currently 45,000 new infections every day across Britain on average and the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) expects this to reach at least 100,000 in August or September.
The UK posted 54,000 cases on Saturday and 47,000 on Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, giving it the highest number of cases of anywhere in the world over the weekend.
Professor Lockdown Neil Ferguson — whose frightening modelling of the first wave spooked ministers into the initial shutdown — has warned that daily cases could rise to 250,000 at a peak, which would dwarf the 68,000 at the height of the second wave in January.
SAGE member Professor Andrew Hayward, from University College London, stressed that if the public do not take a cautious approach to unlocking then ‘tens of thousands’ of more people could die.
The epidemiologist told Sky News: ‘We are heading into the biggest wave of Covid infection that we have ever seen and, even though the vaccine will substantially reduce the number of deaths and hospitalisations, it’s still likely that we will see somewhere in the low tens of thousands of deaths even if we are cautious.
HOW CASE RATES HAVE CHANGED IN THE UK FROM MAY 4 (LEFT) TO JULY 13 (RIGHT): Britain has quickly become an epicentre of the pandemic since May after the Indian variant was seeded in the country. Yellow areas show places which have an infection rate between 0 and 9 per 100,000; green shows rates between 10 and 49; blue is 50 to 99; dark blue represents 200 to 399; purple equates to a rate of between 400 and 799; black shows the worst-hit regions with rates above 800 per 100,000
Nationally, there are currently 45,000 new infections every day across Britain on average and the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) expects this to reach at least 100,000 in August or September
‘And that could move into the mid and high tens of thousands of deaths if we just went back to normal activity.’
Professor Gabriel Scally, a public health expert at the University of Bristol, told MailOnline that opening England today was ‘madness’.
He said: ‘You don’t need a crystal ball to guess what’s going to happen here, we’ve seen over the past few weeks what direction we’re heading in as a country.
‘The UK has had the highest number of cases in the world on some days and for weeks has had more infections than the rest of Western Europe put together… I was in a briefing the other day and someone described it [Freedom Day] as being murderous.
‘All it [Freedom Day] will do is accelerate the epidemic further, I think it’s madness, it’s an extraordinary decision to do it now.’
However, other experts have said they expect infections to start falling in the coming weeks through the huge numbers of people getting infected combined with the large vaccinated population.