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COVID cases hit five-month high as UK reports 22,868 new infections

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The UK has reported another 22,868 COVID cases – the highest since 30 January – according to daily government figures.

However, deaths remain low, with three more fatalities within 28 days of a positive test.

The figures compare with 14,876 cases and 11 deaths announced yesterday, and 10,633 cases and five fatalities last Monday.

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It comes as another 139,712 people had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while a further 123,555 received their second jab.

A total of 44,454,511 people in the UK have now had at least one shot, while 32,583,746 are fully vaccinated.

The latest seven-day average for coronavirus-related deaths is 17.4 – in the second wave peak in January it was more than 1,200.

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The figures appear to back up the assessment that the vaccines have helped to largely break the link between infections and deaths and serious disease – despite the more transmissible Delta variant.

Just over 1,500 people were in hospital with COVID according to the most recent tally available on 24 June. In mid-January it was more than 39,000.

Earlier, Boris Johnson dismissed the possibility of ending coronavirus restrictions early by saying it is “sensible” to stick with the planned “terminus” date of 19 July.

The prime minister said on Monday that England was “set fair” to be free of lockdown measures and back to normality “as far as possible” by that date after previously delaying his roadmap by four weeks due to the Delta variant.

Rosi Stamp, aged 25, receives a Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at an NHS Vaccination Clinic at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London.
Image: Hundreds of ‘grab a jab’ walk-in vaccination sites, including at stadiums and shopping centres, opened in England

It followed comments from the newly appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who appeared to spark concerns that he was ignoring the “data, not dates” approach by saying his “absolute priority” was to end controls as quickly as possible.

He also declared there would be “no going back” once restrictions were ended.

Mr Javid is due to update the Commons on his pandemic plans having succeeded Matt Hancock, who resigned over the weekend after being revealed to have broken COVID-19 guidance by kissing an aide in his ministerial office.

Meanwhile, during a by-election campaign visit in Batley, the prime minister suggested he had decided that Mr Hancock should no longer be health secretary.

He said the delay to Mr Hancock’s exit was “the right pace to proceed in a pandemic”.