Concerns that a “third wave” of Covid-19 could hit the UK within weeks after a surge in cases in Europe increased.
A government adviser who is a member of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) reportedly said the UK is often a few weeks behind Europe in terms of infection levels.
He added: “As we have seen in Paris over the past few days, France was doing incredibly well just a few weeks ago and there is now a sudden and distinct flare-up.”
In the UK, the percentage of people who tested positive for Covid-19 has declined in recent weeks in the West Midlands, East England, South West and London, according to the National Statistics Office.
However, the trend in other regions is uncertain. The ONS has highlighted the East Midlands, where there may be early signs of an increase in infections.
In Birmingham, the rate was 75 cases per 100,000 population for the seven days to March 15, compared to 86.4 the week before. That was 856 new cases – up from 987 the week before.
Vaccinations in the UK have exceeded 26 million for those who received their first dose and Prime Minister Boris Johnson received his push on Friday.
But the R-number – the rate at which the virus reproduces – has increased slightly to 0.6-0.9 in the UK.
Paris was suspended for a month after 35,000 new cases were registered there within 24 hours.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said a “third wave” of infections was becoming more and more likely in the country.
Germany’s public health director went one step further and announced on Friday that the country is now “at the beginning of a third wave”.
Many regions of Italy have returned to the strictest form of lockdown even with closed schools.
Professor James Naismith of Oxford University said on the ITV News, “The concern is that if we loosen our guard, if we are not careful, it will rise again.
“The vaccination program saves lives and prevents deaths, but it still has no effect on the spread of the virus in young people and of course if it spreads really quickly in young people there will be real problems for the country.”