Fears are mounting that England’s Covid cases could spike in the coming weeks because of the Three Lions’ success at Euro 2020, after Scotland’s spiralling outbreak was linked to the tournament.
Scotland’s daily case numbers are doubling every week and public health chiefs have already linked nearly 2,000 infections to fans watching football matches — two-thirds of whom travelled to London to watch the crunch tie with England earlier this month.
Public Health Scotland revealed today that there were a record 3,887 positive tests in the last 24 hours, the highest number north of the border since the pandemic began.
There are now growing fears that England’s infection numbers will follow suit, particularly now that the national team have qualified for the final stages of the tournament.
Hundreds of thousands of Three Lions fans were seen celebrating in and around pubs across the country yesterday with scant regard for social distancing.
Experts told MailOnline that it is highly likely this will spark an uptick in cases in the coming days, which will only get worse the further the team progresses in the competition. The next game, against Ukraine, is on Saturday.
England is already recording about 14,000 Covid cases per day, and there are signs it is speeding up in the North East and the West Midlands – where the rate has surged by up to 80 per cent in the last week.
Professor Lawrence Young, a virus expert and molecular oncologist at Warwick Medical School, told MailOnline: ‘You can’t help but let the whole thing be rather tinged with fears that this will result in a surge in infections. People are just letting their guard down and I think a degree of complacency is creeping in.’
But thanks to the highly successful vaccine rollout, the key metrics ministers will be looking at is hospitalisations and deaths – which have stayed flat even in Scotland as cases skyrocket.
Just 32 people are being admitted to hospital in Scotland with the disease every day, which is almost double the amount last month but still low when compared to previous waves. For comparison, in the darkest days of January there were 195 admissions a day.
This graph shows the number of cases recorded every day in Scotland (purple bars) by the date the test was taken. Experts say this is more reliable because it is not affected by fluctuations in the number of tests that can be processed daily. The graph also shows the daily average for the number of positive tests (green line). Scotland’s cases are doubling every six days at the moment and are higher than the peak of the second wave
Scotland’s Covid hospitalisations have remained flat, however, since cases began to rise (daily hospitalisations are the blue bars, and the average is the blue line). Just 32 people are being admitted to hospital in Scotland with the disease every day, which is almost double the amount last month but still low when compared to previous waves. For comparison, in the darkest days of January there were 195 admissions a day
Scotland’s deaths have also remained flat (blue bars show the number of deaths every day, and the blue line shows the average). Scotland currently averages about two deaths a day, compared to 62 at the peak of the second wave
Around two thirds of new Covid cases in 25 to 44-year-olds in Scotland are among men (blue bar) which Professor Stephen Reicher, who advises the UK and Scottish Governments, said showed the rise was a result of the football
There are growing fears that England’s Covid cases could follow the same trajectory as Scotland’s following their 2-0 win against Germany yesterday. The above graph shows cases are already rising in the country (blue bars show the number of new cases a day, and the blue line shows the average)
But, like in Scotland, England’s hospitalisations are also still flat. The country is currently averaging around 200 a day, a slight rise from 186 last week. But this remains far below the peak of the second wave in January, when there were more than 3,500 hospitalisations a day. Vaccine-triggered immunity is keeping hospitalisations low
England’s deaths are also still flat-lining (blue bars show deaths by date of death, and the blue line shows the average). England is currently recording around 10 deaths a day, compared to more than a thousand in the darkest days of January
Department of Health data shows infections are spiralling by more than 25 per cent in every region of England, and five out of nine (red) have seen cases rise by more than 50 per cent in a week. They are rising fastest in the North East up by 81 per cent to 159.2 cases per 100,000 people. England’s Covid hotspot is the North West where there are 290 cases per 100,000
England football fans celebrated their 2-0 victory against Germany yesterday in pubs, bars and in the street. Scientists have raised concerns that this could accelerate England’s cases further. (Pictured: Three Lions supporters celebrate in Digbeth, Birmingham)
Celebrations where friends embraced each other were pictured across the country. (Above: Three Lions supporters celebrate the victory at Boxpark in Croydon, London)
Crowds also took to the streets to celebrate the victory outside Wembley where the match took place. There was little regard for social distancing and other infection control measures
England’s Covid cases have already surged by 62 per cent in the week following their 0-0 draw against Scotland, after Three Lions fans held ‘watch parties’ and gathered in pubs and bars to see the match.
Infections also surged more than 50 per cent last week in five of nine regions in England.
The North East is seeing the biggest spike in infections (up 81 per cent to 259.2 cases per 100,000 people), followed by the West Midlands (up 74 per cent to 122.1 per 100,000) and Yorkshire and the Humber (up 68 per cent to 170.1 per 100,000).
Just one in 100 NHS beds are now taken up by Covid patients in England
Just one in 100 NHS beds are currently being taken up by Covid patients in England — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave. Graph shows: The percentage of all hospital beds available to the NHS being taken up by Covid patients on June 22 this year (red bars) compared to on December 14 (blue bars), the last time infections were above 20,000 and rising
Just one in 100 NHS beds were being taken up by Covid patients in England last week — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave, according to official figures that highlight the power of the vaccines.
MailOnline analysis of the latest NHS England figures show that out of the roughly 87,000 hospital beds at the health service’s disposal, fewer than 1,000 were being taken up by people suffering from coronavirus (1.1 per cent) on June 22.
The low inpatient numbers are made more impressive by the fact average daily infections have risen to more than 20,000 due to an outbreak of the ultra-infectious Indian variant.
Professor Chris Whitty told a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday that hospitals will be able to cope fine after Freedom Day because of the protective ring the jabs have thrown around the population.
The last time Britain was recoding more than 20,000 daily cases and the outbreak was rising was in the second week of December, at the cusp of the second wave.
At that time one in six hospital beds across the health service in England (15 per cent) were being used by people struggling with the virus.
Now, even the worst hit region — the North West — is only seeing 2.4 per cent of its beds full with Covid patients. Covid occupancy is lowest in the South West, where fewer than one in 220 beds are occupied by people with the virus.
Britain’s positive test rate is also much lower than in the winter wave — down from five per cent in December to just two per cent now.
The encouraging data comes as England’s normally-cautious chief medical officer threw his weight behind ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19 by saying the NHS can cope with the expected rise in admissions.
Professor Whitty warned prolonging curbs would lead to a worse peak in winter and encouraged ministers to push ahead with plans to ease restrictions next month.
The North West is still the Covid hotspot (290 per 100,000), although its outbreak is now the slowest growing in England.
Department of Health data shows people aged 25 to 44 years old accounted for the highest number of cases (4,740 of almost 15,000) on June 24, the latest available.
But deaths and hospitalisations have remained flat, in a clear sign vaccines have severed the link between rising infections and severe disease. There were 200 admissions a day on June 24, up slightly on 186 last week.
Experts said it can take around a week for someone who has caught Covid to develop symptoms and test positive for the disease, suggesting a spike in cases due to the match will not be visible for at least the next seven days.
Public Health Scotland revealed today nearly two-thirds of 1,991 cases — or 1,294 people — detected said they had travelled to London to watch the match.
This included 397 fans who said they had attended Wembley. It is not clear whether they caught the virus in or outside the stadium.
Nearly two thirds of all cases spotted were among 25 to 39-year-olds, and nine in ten were among men.
PHS said it was ‘working with Test and Protect and NHS boards to ensure that all public health actions are taken in the close contacts of these Euro 2020 cases as part of the 32,539 cases that were reported to the Test and Protect case management system during this period.’
Scottish football associations and local officials had asked fans not to travel to London for the match.
But at least 30,000 people are thought to have still jumped on trains to the capital.
Thousands were pictured embracing each other and jubilantly clutching beer cans in Trafalgar Square as they celebrated their team’s draw with England. Some also poured washing up liquid into the water fountains.
Scotland’s cases have more than doubled since their draw with England and they are now recording more than 3,000 infections a day, the highest number since the pandemic began.
Two-thirds of the newly-infected are men, which Professor Stephen Reicher, who advises the Scottish and UK Governments, said showed it was the result of the football.
Professor Young told MailOnline he was concerned Covid cases in England were likely to follow Scotland’s after their victory over Germany yesterday.
Asked whether surging Covid cases could be a major concern given the successful vaccination programme, he added: ‘The biggest worry for me is we could end up spreading the virus back into the older population who were vaccinated earlier in the year and who have waning immunity. We should be more cautious.’
Professor Tim Spector, who leads the UK’s largest symptom tracking app, also warned yesterday that data from his study showed immunity among older people sparked by the jabs was falling among some people.
He told MailOnline: ‘We’re at around six months after the most vulnerable were vaccinated and we are seeing through our app about a quarter of cases in vaccinated people as that group loses their immunity.’
But the top expert predicted Covid deaths were likely to remain low for the rest of the summer, before surging to a ‘few hundred’ in the winter — far below the more than 1,000 a day at the peak of the second wave.
Downing Street said yesterday that Britain must ‘learn to live with’ the virus, and has hinted that they will be able to accept around 20,000 Covid deaths a year, the same as in a bad flu year.
Ahead of the game against Ukraine in Rome, they today urged fans not to travel to the Italian capital for the game. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘People should not be travelling to amber list countries.
‘Obviously, we appreciate how fans will want to do everything possible to support the England team but we do need to balance that against the need to protect public health. We would urge everyone to comply with the guidelines and rules that we have in place.’
This graph shows how Scotland’s Covid cases (red line) have accelerated since the Indian variant broke out in the UK in May. It has coincided with their run in the Euros. Scotland’s infections are doubling every week, but there are early signs infections are starting to fall
England’s Covid cases (red line) have also spiralled since the Indian variant was seeded in the country.
Scotland’s cases surged to their highest levels since the pandemic began after thousands turned out to celebrate their draw with England.
Its cases are currently doubling every ten days after hitting a record-high of 3,285 on Monday. But their daily hospitalisations and deaths from the virus have remained flat.
Scotland recorded 44 admissions due to the disease on June 23, up 25 per cent in a week. But this was still far below the rates in late January when almost 200 people were going to hospital with the virus every day.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday the country was in a ‘third wave’ of the pandemic, but that early signs suggested the peak had ‘already passed’.
She said: ‘This is early days and we need to monitor this over the course of the coming days. But when we look at cases over the past week by the date the specimen was taken, as opposed to the date on which we reported the test result — which are the numbers we report on a daily basis — then what we see is a peak in cases last Tuesday.
‘And since then, we have seen what appears to be a swing down of the rate of increase. So that’s encouraging. But again, I would stress that it is early days.’
She added that the UK’s vaccination drive meant Scotland would not need to start imposing severe restrictions on people’s daily lives compared to earlier in the pandemic.
‘The information that we’re looking at today, we won’t necessarily take the same action as we would on the back of the same information six months ago, because vaccination has really changed the game,’ she said.
Professor Reicher, a behavioural psychologist at the University of St Andrews, told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme last week following the game: ‘A few weeks ago it was about 50:50, men and women got infected at the same rate.
‘Yesterday the data showed that young men – men under 45 – were about three times more likely to get infected.
‘We can’t be sure why that is, but the obvious explanation is that people were getting together for the football and not taking precautions.’
And Edinburgh University’s Professor Linda Bauld said at the time it was still too early to say football fans were definitely behind the rise, but admitted there was a ‘trend’.
The public health expert added that men were ‘more likely to take risks’ and engage in behaviours that could fuel the spread of the disease.