The UK on Tuesday reported its highest total of weekly coronavirus deaths since this March when the government began lifting major lockdown restrictions.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 652 deaths were reported in the week ending on Aug. 13, up 6.7% from the previous week.
Of the four nations that make up the UK, England had the highest number of deaths with 550, followed by 41 in Scotland, 40 in Northern Ireland, and 19 in Wales.
The figures said deaths from COVID-19 are now averaging 100 a day across the UK, with scientists warning this figure could potentially arise when children return to school next week.
According to Public Health England, the seven-day average for deaths within 28 days of testing positive is 100, the first time since March when this average was last exceeded. Although the figures are still below the figures of last year when the UK was entering its second peak, they show a rise compared to this May and June when figures were in the single digits.
The rising number of deaths has been attributed to the spread of the now dominant Delta variant, which shows more resistance to vaccines than other variants. Scientists have also warned that with the resumption of school and the return of winter in the coming months, the government will have to reimpose some restrictions.
Speaking to The Guardian daily, Ravi Gupta, a professor at Cambridge University and a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said that there would be rising hospital admissions and continued disruptions once school resumes next month.
“There is nothing to stop it happening because there are still a lot of people who have not been infected with Delta and who will get infected, and some of them will become more ill than others. So, I think there is still a way to go with this. And yes, it is going to coincide with schools reopening, and of course, you have waning immunity as well,” he said.
On Tuesday, 30,838 people tested positive for the virus, and in the week beginning Aug. 18, 234,853 people had a confirmed positive test result – up 13.5% from the previous week.
The UK reported 174 deaths on Tuesday and on Aug. 18-24, there were 705 deaths – up 8.8% compared to the previous seven days.
The number of vaccinations continues to increase as young adults are now eligible for the jab. By the end of Aug. 23, over 47 million people had gotten their first dose of the vaccine and over 41 million people they’re second.