NO10 has warned Brits will have to “live with Covid” as Freedom Day nears.
Ministers agreed at a Cabinet meeting today “we will be able to live with Covid in the future” after July 19 thanks to successful vaccines, according to Downing Street.
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A readout of the meeting included: “Cabinet agreed that once we have completed the road map, we will be able to live with Covid in the future, even if cases continue to rise, thanks to the protections provided by the vaccine.”
It comes as official data shows Covid deaths in England have gone back over 100 for the first time in a month as the Delta variant spreads.
It suggests Brits will have to get used to hundreds of Covid deaths per month in order to move on from the pandemic.
But in perspective, deaths account for only one in 120 deaths in England every week, and more people are dying of flu and pneumonia.
The official data will further fuel ministers’ confidence that the “terminus” date of July 19 – when all remaining restrictions in England are lifted – still stands.
The PM, who attended today’s Cabinet meeting, is hell-bent on returning to normality as soon as possible – even though he admits deaths and hospitalisations have gone up a little.
The readout from the meeting said: “The Prime Minister outlined that yesterday we finalised the interim review and that the data shows cases continuing to rise but hospitalisations and deaths have seen a much shallower growth.
“He reiterated the Government’s position that we are therefore increasingly confident in taking the final step on July 19, when even more vaccinations have been offered.”
The new Health Secretary Sajid Javid – also keen to get Britain back on its feet at any cost on July 19 – provided an update on the latest vaccination stats.
It has given the Cabinet confidence “we will be able to live with the virus”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told Westminster reporters daily Covid figures will continue to be publically published, but for how long will be “kept under review”.
There were 102 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending June 18, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), all of which were in England.
The figure is up 12 per cent from the 83 in the previous week.
And it is the first time the number of deaths has been above 100 since the week ending May 21, when 107 Covid deaths were registered.
It is the first time deaths have increased in months after spiralling from a peak at the end of January.
Only on May 14 there was an increase in deaths, which experts said may have been skewed higher due to a delay in reporting caused by the May 3 bank holiday.
DEATHS TIP 100 AGAIN
There were 116 deaths across the UK using official figures from each nation’s statistical body, compared with 93 the week before.
However, the number of people dying of Covid is still relatively small compared to other diseases.
Of the 102 deaths in England recorded in today’s report, 74 were directly due to Covid and the rest were involving Covid.
It means just one in 120 people died of Covid – 72 of 8,874 total.
Weekly deaths in England are still at a very low level compared with the peak of the first and second waves of the virus.
Although the data suggest an upward trend in deaths after cases of Covid have slowly been rising for the past few weeks, the link between cases and hospitalisations and deaths has largely been severed by vaccines.
But it is not completely broken because jabs are not 100 per cent effective and Covid is still circulating.
The break between cases and deaths is also evident in the Government death data – which is calculated differently to ONS.
Daily case numbers are as high as January 30 (20,000+), but deaths have not followed suit.
The Government said that a further three people had died of Covid as of Monday, compared to the 1,200 deaths reported on January 30 – when only nine million people had a jab compared to today’s 44.5 million.
Yesterday the Prime Minister admitted that hospital numbers and deaths were “going up a bit”.
During a by-election campaign visit in Batley, Boris Johnson said: “Although there are some encouraging signs and the number of deaths remains low and the number of hospitalisations remains low – though both are going up a bit – we are seeing an increase in cases.
“So we think it’s sensible to stick to our plan to have a cautious but irreversible approach, use the next three weeks or so really to complete as much as we can of that vaccine rollout…
“And then with every day that goes by it’s clearer to me and all our scientific advisers that we’re very likely to be in a position on July 19 to say that really is the terminus and we can go back to life as it was before Covid as far as possible.”
Yesterday Mr Javid said there was “no reason” why the July 19 deadline would not be met.
In his first Commons statement since replacing Matt Hancock, Mr Javid told MPs: “My task is to help return the economic and cultural life that makes this country so great while of course protecting life and our NHS.”
Public Health England said yesterday’s 22,868 new cases included some which had not been included in Sunday’s figures due to a technical issue
Meanwhile, 1,465 patients with Covid are currently in hospital in England, up 14 per cent from a week ago and the highest number since April 23.
In more positive news, weekly registrations of deaths involving Covid in Wales have dropped to zero for the first time since the pandemic began.
None of the 573 deaths registered in Wales in the week ending June 18 mentioned Covid.
The last time this happened was in the week ending March 13 2020, before Covid gripped the UK.
The number of weekly deaths in Wales peaked at 467 during the second wave, in the week to January 15.
The Government’s death data for the UK says there were 72 deaths reported in the week to June 18.
This is up from 61 the week prior – also suggesting a very small uptick.
Around 13 people are dying each day in the UK – double the 7 on May 23.