June 29, 2022: -Mandatory Covid-19 restrictions are doubtful to be reintroduced in Britain this summer, health researchers and physicians have said, as the country joins a current wave of infections.
On Friday, over 1.7 million Brits, or around 1 in 35 people, tested positive for Covid through to June 18, the recent data from the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics showed.
The growth marks a 75% increase from two weeks previous when the country commemorated Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. It comes after a summer of large-scale musical and sporting events, pushing cases higher still.
Yet, health researchers and physicians say they don’t foresee a return to obligatory public health measures unless there is a substantial shift in the virus’ behavior.
“I don’t think we will have any restrictions unless the situation looks unmanageable for the health service, especially the critical care service,” Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told CNBC Monday.
On Friday, most new infections are being driven by omicron BA.4 and BA.5, two more unique variants that have now become the dominant strains in Britain, the U.K. Heath Security Agency said.
Though they have been designated “variants of concern,” scientists say there is currently no evidence to suggest either causes more severe illness than previous strains, and they are unlikely to behave drastically differently.
If it were to happen, any shift in approach would be if intensive care units came under significant pressure, Clarke said. Hospitalizations were up 8.2% over the past week, but ICU and high dependency unit admission rates have remained low at 0.2%, according to UKHSA.
“ICU is the bottleneck on this, and that’s where you’re going to see if you see it an inability to cope,” Clarke said.