Covid cases are rising but all other key data is DOWN – so what do we need for lockdown to lift?

COVID cases are on the rise, which is likely to have convinced Boris Johnson’s expected decision to delay the lifting of lockdown. 

But other key pieces of data are all positive which will come to the frustration of millions hoping for a June 21 “Freedom Day”. 

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The Government was hoping to lift all restrictions in England on June 21, allowing weddings, concerts, and nightclubs to open up.

However, the PM is expected to announce a delay of up to a month at a press conference at 6pm.

The Government has said the decision to lift restrictions will be based on four tests.

Two of these are if evidence shows vaccines are reducing hospital cases and deaths and that infection rates are not risking a surge in hospital cases which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

And the data proves vaccines are, indeed, working to keep hospitalisations and deaths down.

The number of people being diagnosed per day in the UK is now is at the same level as the end of September, considered the start of the second wave.

There were 7,609 people diagnosed on June 10, similar to the 7,143 diagnosed on September 29 (both weekdays which are not impacted by weekend dips). 

But while daily hospital admissions increased in line with cases in September, they have not this time to any stretch. 

Some 440 people were admitted on September 29 – more than twice as many as the 187 on June 10, the most recent date available.

Admissions were rising fast in September after a lull in the summer, by 300 per cent in just one month from the end of August.

Daily admissions have risen by 70 per cent in the past month, but they are still below 200.

Meanwhile, there were 2,300 people in hospital on September 29, more than double the 1,000 in now.

Deaths are harder to compare, because changes do not become apparent until a few weeks after a rise in cases, due to a time lag between infection and severe disease.

But it’s clear that over the past few weeks, as cases have risen, deaths have not.

The daily average reached a low of 5.9 on May 22, and it’s now seven several weeks later.

So if the data shows hospitals are not coming under pressure from rising case rates, what will the June 21 delay be based on?

Here we explain the key pieces of information officials couldn’t ignore.

Delta variant

The main reason the Government is holding back on lifting lockdown is because of the Delta variant which emerged in India.

Had this variant never entered the UK, it's likely cases would be well below what they are now, potentially low enough to lift lockdown.

The Alpha (Kent) variant had been dominant, but now the Delta variant has overtaken because it is 60 per cent more transmissible.

Vaccines also do not work as well against it, making it easier to spread among a population largely jabbed than Alpha. 

Delta is now responsible for up to 96 per cent of new Covid-19 cases, Public Health England said on Friday.

Growth rates for Delta cases are doubling in some regions in as little as four-and-a-half days.

But some experts have said new variants should not be a reason to hold back on living a normal life.

Professor Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, said in early June that if the UK “scampers down the rabbit hole” every time a new variant emerges the nation will be “huddled away” for a long time.

Rising cases 

The proportion of people testing positive for coronavirus in England has increased in recent weeks to a worrying level.

And because there are no plans to put more restrictions in place, the case numbers will not come down again until more people are vaccinated. 



Around one in 560 people in England had Covid in the week to June 5 – up from one in 640 in the previous week.

It is the highest level since the week to April 10, according to estimates published on Friday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

North-west England had the highest proportion (one in 200), and south-west England had the lowest estimate (one in 1,920).

Meanwhile, nine in 10 local authority areas in England are currently recording a rise in rates.

This is the highest proportion since the start of the year. 

The rate of new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in England is now at its highest level for more than three months.

A total of 67.0 cases per 100,000 people were recorded in the seven days to June 9 – the highest since March 2.

But it is still well below the 680.6 per 100,000 at the peak of the second wave in early January.

Vaccines are working – more should be given

PHE said it is "encouraging" that the increase in cases is "not yet accompanied by a similarly large increase in hospitalisations".

This is thanks to vaccines, which have put the UK in a very different position compared to if it hadn’t existed.

Almost 79 per cent of the British adult population have had their first jab and 56.6 per cent have had two.

While this is good news, it is feared it won’t be enough to hold the impact of Delta. 

One jab is only 33 per cent effective against symptomatic Covid caused by Delta, while two are between 60 and 88 per cent effective.

 The purpose of a delay in the lockdown would be to make sure more people have doses, particularly second ones.

Figures suggest there are still some groups in the population where the level of protection offered by both doses of Covid vaccine is lagging – including at-risk people in London, care home staff, and those aged in their 50s. 

However, with so few cases of Delta in vaccinated people, it raises questions over whether it is worth keeping restrictions in place.

Only five per cent of cases of Delta have bee in double-jabbed people.

Although they made up nearly one-third of deaths (12 of 42), this is likely to represent that they are old and more likely to have health conditions.

But Former minister Mark Harper, the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Tory MPs, said vaccines have worked enough for the roadmap to go ahead.

He said: “The effectiveness of our vaccines at preventing hospitalisation means unlocking on June 21 could proceed safely. Any decision to delay will be a political choice.”

Other countries, such as Chile, have shown that even with a highly vaccinated population, there is potential for another wave. 

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