Test and Trace statistics have recorded a rise in Covid cases for the first time in mid-July – and infections are likely to surge further after isolation rules were ditched on August 16
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Covid cases rose by 6% in England last week, latest Test and Trace figures show.
Official data suggests the fall in cases around the start of the school holidays has now gone into reverse, with 190,508 people testing positive between August 5-11.
Some 351,453 people were identified as close contacts of a Covid case, up from 331,614 the week before.
Meanwhile the number of venues subject to an alert by the NHS Covid-19 app – after a positive person visited – soared from to 1,366 that week from 757 a week earlier.
It is the first time the Test and Trace service has recorded a rise in cases since mid-July.
And crucially, the latest rise is from the period just before isolation rules were axed. From August 16, children and double-jabbed adults in England have no longer had to isolate in most cases if a close contact tests positive.
While cases are below the most recent peak of 308,757 in the week of July 15-21, experts have warned the level of Covid in the country is at a high base that risks a new wave.
SAGE member Prof Neil Ferguson said earlier this week: “Case numbers have basically plateaued at this time and are really quite high – it’s about 30,000 cases a day.
“That’s a slightly sobering situation to be in coming into September because our contact rates are at about half of normal levels, and in school holidays children don’t have that many contacts.
“And we’ll be reopening schools, people will be going back to offices in September.
“So we still have the potential of quite a large wave of infection in September, October.”
Separate, more up-to-date data shows 33,904 new positive cases were recorded yesterday – up 7.6% in a week.
And 655 Covid deaths have been recorded in the last week, up 7.9% on the week before.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is meeting today to discuss a potential booster vaccine campaign and people who might “really need” another jab.
Committee member Professor Adam Finn said a decision is imminent that those who are “very unlikely to be well protected by those first two doses” will need a third one.
His comments on a wider rollout were echoed by another Government adviser, Professor Peter Openshaw, who said further evidence is needed on any benefits booster jabs might bring.
Prof Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) which advises the Government, also said high case numbers and deaths are “very worrying” and warned that “we just don’t really know what’s going to happen” as winter approaches.
Asked about the figures, Prof Openshaw told Times Radio: “I think it’s very worrying. This is a very large number.
If you think, 34,000 people, that’s a lot of people testing positive, and to be seeing over 100 deaths a day at this stage, you know before schools have gone back, while the weather is still relatively good, we’re not back into winter yet.
“I think we’re all really anxious about what’s going to happen once we return to normality.”
He added: “We’re going into the winter with really very high levels of infection out there in the community and we just don’t really know what’s going to happen.”